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Duncombe: End Oban deal

Environmentalist and reEarth Co-Founder Sam Duncombe yesterday called on the government to end the Oban Energies deal.

The government signed an agreement with Oban Energies on February 19 for a $5.5 billion oil refinery and storage facility project in East Grand Bahama.

“They need to just pull that deal,” Duncombe said.

“They need to try to restore some faith from the public [in] them because I can tell you right now that I have zero faith in them.”

On Tuesday, Labour Minister Dion Foulkes said it is likely the renegotiation of the heads of agreement for the deal will start in January.

Duncombe insisted that the government must find a way to end the deal because it would do more harm than good even if it’s renegotiated.

“It’s a bad idea on many levels,” she said.

“From an environmental point of view, when we talk about climate change, the impact of sea level rise to our coastline is going to [cost us] billions of dollars in [the] future and who’s planning for that?

“Why are we still going down the road of courting fossil fuel companies when we should be looking toward renewable energy to power ourselves, to get ourselves out of this stranglehold we have? It’s a ridiculous bill we’re paying and we need something to effectively change that, and the only way that is going to effectively change is if we stop using fossil fuels.”

The government signed the agreement without an environmental impact assessment (EIA) in place.

The current heads of agreement with Oban states that the government does not have an option to terminate the deal based on anything the EIA concludes, but must work with Oban to address any concerns raised by the study.

The Environmental Alliance, a coalition which includes reEarth, wrote to the government on May 18.

It listed several environmental concerns with the refinery, including: air emissions, handling and process of waste-water, handling of hazardous materials and waste and the contamination of group water and water lens.

Duncombe said, “There are no conditions under which that deal would be palpable for any right-thinking person.”

She said the government needs to consider more sustainable development approaches to boost the economy of Grand Bahama.

“They need to actively look into large scale solar projects for New Providence and for the Family Islands. They need to get on it,” Duncombe said.

Referring to the prime minister’s recent push to move toward green energy, Duncombe said the government needs to “stop yapping about things and actually do something positive for the country because Oban is not positive for this country”.

In March, Prime Minister Dr. Hubert Minnis admitted that his government made a series of missteps regarding its deal with Oban Energies in its haste to boost the economy of Grand Bahama.

 

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Jasper Ward

Jasper Ward started at The Nassau Guardian in September 2018. Ward covers a wide range of national and social issues. Education: Goldsmiths, University of London, MA in Race, Media and Social Justice

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