For the first time in over 14 years, there are no active foreign oil drilling licenses in Bahamian waters.
We applaud the government for refusing to renew Challenger Energy Company’s (aka Bahamas Petroleum Company) licenses because they have failed to pay their basic fees. Yet, we are still vulnerable to the risks of oil drilling in our waters from future corporate misadventures.
With no possible legal barriers remaining, the time is NOW to lead boldly and ban future drilling for oil while charting a course for a sustainable blue economy.
As we have entered into another hurricane season, we are reminded of what is at stake. The impacts of climate change are accelerating and the low-lying islands of The Bahamas are vulnerable to inevitable super storms like Hurricane Dorian.
The last thing we should be doing is fueling the climate crisis and creating a more unstable future, much less inviting a full scale oil disaster alongside storm recovery.
As a global environmental leader, our country is proud to have helped negotiate the Paris Climate Agreement meant to facilitate a global transition away from fossil fuels.
The Paris Accord clearly requires a rapid cessation of exploration and development of new fossil fuel reserves in order to keep us on a pathway to limit the worst impacts of climate change.
The Bahamas government has stated its commitment to renewable energy, and now is the opportunity to make this a reality.
Conversely, our country’s very commitment within the Paris agreement relies on implementing our Marine Protected Areas — not drilling for the remote possibility of dirty, dangerous oil within them.
As election season looms, we are encouraged that major candidates have all stated their objection to oil drilling. But lofty political statements do not enforce themselves.
If this current government does not seize the opportunity to ban all oil drilling now, the major political parties need to strengthen and clearly state their positions through a permanent ban on oil drilling.
As we emerge from COVID-19, our nation has the chance to build back better by prioritizing efforts on emerging economies that we are best suited for, which are a sustainable energy economy and a blue economy, and to strengthen our reputation around the world.
If there is one thing that the past year has taught us, it is that despite their claims, the oil industry does not have the best interests of the Bahamian people at heart.
On the other hand, our elected leaders are hired for this very purpose.
As representatives of the people, now is the time to permanently ban harmful oil drilling in pursuit of a true renewable energy future.
— Rashema Ingraham and Casuarina McKinney-Lambert
members, Our Islands Our Future Coalition