ReEarth calls for reversal of oil drilling license

ReEarth Bahamas President Sam Duncombe yesterday called for the government to reverse its decision to allow the Bahamas Petroleum Company (BPC) to drill for oil.

The head of the Bahamian environmentalist group expressed that the country is “shooting itself in the foot” by authorizing this deal instead of tackling climate change.

Last week, BPC indicated that it will have a drill rig in Bahamian waters by March in preparation to drill its first well in its search for oil in The Bahamas.

BPC Chief Executive Officer Simon Potter said in the notice that the company notified its deepwater drilling contractor, Seadrill, of its intention of receiving a rig in the first quarter of 2020.

He added that BPC is currently working with Seadrill on the long-form rig contract in preparation for drilling.

 “While they (the government) occasionally paid lip service to this existential threat in forums like the UN (United Nations), our leaders have acted like it was business as usual, and worse yet, they still do,” Duncombe said.

“This must change. These hundreds of reports, and in our own lived experience today as residents of a country ravaged by one of the strongest hurricanes on record, show how much more we deserve, and must demand from our leaders if we are to survive and thrive as a nation and be truly Bahamas strong.”

In his address to the UN General Assembly last month, Prime Minister Dr. Hubert Minnis said the country’s naturally warm waters have been made warmer by carbon dioxide emissions and were mobilized into instruments of death and destruction.

He even urged world leaders to treat the global climate emergency as the greatest challenge facing humanity.

Duncombe said ReEarth is calling on the government to do what it has asked of other countries.

“We must revoke this oil drilling decision. It is an insult to the people of The Bahamas, the memories of those lost in this appalling tragedy and a lazy policy decision,” she said.

“It also makes us hypocrites. We offer these licenses while, from the other side of our mouths, we appeal to the international community to save us. Save us from ourselves, apparently.”

Beyond making the country an agent of its own accelerated demise, she said, the public need only look at what has happened with Equinor on Grand Bahama as a result of Hurricane Dorian. 

Last week, Environment and Housing Minister Romauld Ferreira indicated that five million gallons of oil were spilled at the Equinor South Riding Point facility in East Grand Bahama during the storm.

“There may be few things we have control over in this mess of biblical proportions, but whether or not we give succor to this dirty industry in our own waters is one of them. What we must do is clear in the reports of the scientists and in the faces and heavy hearts of those who have now lost everything,” Duncombe said.

“We must demand more from our leaders and our leaders should ask more of themselves. Oil and fossil-fuel driven climate change is a clear and present danger to our country and children. It’s time we act now to stop this suicidal mission and scrap oil drilling licenses in The Bahamas.”

Last month, Ferreira said The Bahamas is in a climate crisis that will see the rise of intense hurricanes like Dorian.

Ferreira made the comments as the government adopted the tenets of a Climate Crisis Declaration that was drafted by the Cat Island Conservation Institute.

He added that the government is committed to doing all that needs to be done to alleviate and remediate the effects of climate change and build resiliency for future events.

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