PM urged to avoid massive pollution from oil drilling

Dear Editor,

We, the members of Our Islands, Our Future, strongly urge Prime Minister Minnis to move immediately to cancel all existing licences, reject all proposed renewals and impose a permanent ban on fossil fuel exploration anywhere within the maritime borders of The Bahamas.

The Bahamas Petroleum Company (BPC) is planning to begin drilling offshore exploration wells in a matter of months, so this unique island nation has one last chance to protect its vital economic, recreational and ecological treasures from the devastating ravages associated with oil pollution, before it is too late.

This critical threat to our world-renowned oceans, reefs and beaches cannot be exaggerated. All drilling is dirty drilling, and the threat of a major catastrophe looms always on the horizon. We therefore strongly advise the government to intervene to protect before it is too late.

This year is the 10th anniversary of the BP Deepwater Horizon Gulf Oil Disaster into the Gulf of Mexico, the most catastrophic environmental disaster in the history of offshore drilling, which dumped nearly 200 million gallons of oil, fouled 16,000 miles of coastline along five U.S. states, utterly destroyed fisheries and caused an unprecedented and as yet untold level of damage to marine life.

July 15, 2010, 87 days after the initial explosion, was the day that the well head was finally capped.

The Deepwater Horizon rig was an exploratory well, just like the one that BPC is currently seeking to drill here. Even a partial repeat of that disaster would devastate our tourism, commercial fishing, diving and marine recreation industries.

Tourism alone generates 50 percent of our gross domestic product, while these other industries are vital to the survival of many far-flung communities. Simply put, drilling threatens our very way of life.

It is clear that neither BPC nor The Bahamas government could fund the level of emergency response and cleanup needed to mitigate a large-scale disaster.

The Deepwater Horizon spill cost $65 billion – more than five times the GDP of The Bahamas. Were such a disaster to take place it would pose an existential threat to The Bahamas, directly threatening the livelihoods of the vast majority of Bahamians.

We cannot afford to put our nation’s future at risk, nor risk its reputation being tied to a devastating accident.

Again, we urge you to cancel existing licenses immediately, disregard any license renewal proposals and place a permanent ban on offshore oil drilling.

Let us be known for pristine waterways and our commitment to a sustainable economy, not dirty fossil fuels or another uncontrolled and costly oil disaster.


Our Islands, Our Future

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