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Environmentalists call on PM to release all oil drilling documents

Our Island, Our Future, a coalition of environmentalist groups that have fought against oil drilling in The Bahamas since its announcement, sent a letter to Prime Minister Philip Brave Davis asking for all documentation pertaining to Challenger Energy Group (CEG), formerly Bahamas Petroleum Company (BPC), by invoking their right to know under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA).

The letter also seeks the full accounting of the fees paid and owed by CEG to the government.

“We also kindly request your attention to our three earlier FOIA requests related to this topic, dated January 26, 2021, March 23, 2021, and July 13, 2021,” the letter reads.

“This is our fourth request for information related to plans, licenses, government approvals, activities and reports surrounding CEG’s operations in Bahamian waters during 2020 and early 2021.

“With this letter we reiterate our request for copies of all license agreements, reports, information, logs, as well as BPC’s full certificate(s) of insurance. We also reiterate our prior request for information on the ‘minimum requirements’ of insurance that were required of Challenger Energy Group during this drilling operation.”

The group also released a statement calling for increased government transparency on oil drilling in The Bahamas and a nationwide ban on oil drilling altogether.

“We wish to reiterate our recent expression to you, dated October 18, 2021, of our vigorous opposition to oil drilling in Bahamian waters and strongly urge that we move together to impose a permanent ban on fossil fuels exploration anywhere in our maritime borders,” the letter states.

The environmentalists urged Davis to consider that The Bahamas must move away from those things that exacerbate the global climate crisis, which greatly threatens small island states like The Bahamas.

The letter touted the prime minister’s address at the 2021 United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP26), asking world leaders to take action against climate change, calling it an inspiration.

“Keeping in mind that scientists at the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) in its recent 6th assessment report have stated unequivocally that we must move forward with strong and rapid reductions in carbon-emitting fossil fuels in the short term, in order to stabilize the climate, or else we can only expect to see the duration, frequency and intensity of extreme conditions to increase,” the environmentalists said.

“This is our time to act now and with a sense of urgency, as we have no legal obligation that would prevent us from doing so.

“This is clearly not the time to get into this business (oil drilling), this is the time to get out and progress towards stronger blue and green economies for The Bahamas and a sustainable future.

“For the first time since 2007 there are no active oil drilling licenses in The Bahamas. Please help lead this by banning fossil fuel exploration and drilling in The Bahamas. In doing so, we will take a step into the future by removing the influence of the dirty fossil fuels industry so that we focus on the resilient, green recovery efforts for a sustainable economic future.”

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Chester Robards

Chester Robards rejoined The Nassau Guardian in November 2017 as a senior business reporter. He has covered myriad topics and events for The Nassau Guardian. Education: Florida International University, BS in Journalism

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