Government in the Dark – Bahamas for Bahamians
On the one hand they TALK about preserving the Bahamas. On the other hand the government actively keeps us in the dark and persists in approving developments that devastate the environment.
Given that this government in the dark never chose to bring any of the petroleum bills to light for public comment or consultation, its standard operating procedure for them to pat themselves on the back and tell us what a wonderful job they have done on our behalf just doesn’t cut it- how would we know? And why in the world would we trust them? It’s not like they have a track record of putting the welfare or concerns of Bahamians first.
Peanuts for Damages
The $10m penalties for damage in oil exploration are a joke – no a bloody insult, when you consider the extent of the damage that could happen during oil exploration – and what about the actual drilling? Do the fines cover actual drilling for oil? How would we know?
Just think back to what British Petroleum did to the Gulf of Mexico – they have yet to contain that ongoing catastrophe and the fines (in the BILLIONS) do not even come close to “restoring” the damage – to the marine environment, to the health of the people in the area or to the catastrophic economic damages borne by fishermen and those in the tourism trade. Oil disasters are not restorable – that is the crux of the matter – if you look at the Exonn Valzez 1989 disaster they are STILL finding oil more than 25 years later! when they test areas that “look” like they have been cleaned up.
Drilling muds used in oil exploration cause damage to the environment by suffocating reefs and causing fish to leave the area. Who exactly gets to quantify what “damage” means? Do dead reefs, fish, sea birds, or marine mammals count as “damage”?
Damage Before Drilling
Even before the first exploratory well is dug the seismic testing used to analyze where the most likely place to find oil blasts HUGE sound into the marine environment. In Trinidad and Tobago this sound blasted craters in the seabed that were 25 meters across, and the fish disappeared and did not return.
Seismic testing creates extreme underwater noise that disturbs marine life, in particular whales and dolphins who live in a world of sound. Who knows what damage Bahamas Petroleum Company (BPC)’s seismic testing did – No one. Even when asked, the BPC scientist said they never saw whales and dolphins. Did they listen for them before they blasted their home with noise that is as loud as standing next to a 747 while taking off? Apparently not.
Seismic testing can also have extremely serious, or lethal effects on fish because their
swim bladders can be ruptured with the intensive local noise, increasing mortality and disrupting fish populations. This testing can also damage plankton – the base of the food chain in the ocean.
Imagine… Oppression, Devastation and Exploitation
All the Bahamas government keeps “selling” us is that we will be rich IF we find oil – and that we should imagine what our future might look like IF we found oil. The Attorney General Allyson Gibson asked us to look at countries like Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Bahrain and Dubai – where, their countries had transformed into much admired modern cities, and the people enjoy a high standard of living.
But what more can we, or should we expect when we have Wayne Munroe calling for the flogging of immigrants, and suggesting that women don’t need Women’s Rights, that women should be satisfied, because after all, we can be educated – unlike women in Muslim countries. Are we as a country actually aspiring to the worst countries benchmark and being told to be satisfied because we are marginally better than them?
It is somewhat difficult, if not impossible to speak of these countries with such glowing admiration especially when they are morally bankrupt societies built by slave labour, including the sex slave trade of children. The environment, and human rights (especially women) are at the bottom of the barrel – just like The Bahamas – so it is fitting after all for the Bahamas to aspire to that greater model of oppression, devastation and exploitation. And, like the countries mentioned above, the government knows full well that there will be no wealth to be shared among “regular” Bahamians, the wealth will be distributed at the “top” where politicians will be there with their outstretched grubby greedy hands to benefit off the backbone of this country – our environment – at our collective expense and at the expense of future generations.
Additionally, to try and tell Bahamians that we will benefit from cheaper gas is just another bold face lie. Any oil extracted from the Bahamas will go to a refinery and will be sold back to us at full market value. The dishonesty of this government just has to stop!
Speaking of the “selling value of the petroleum prevailing market”, in case the government does not have access to the internet, the “prevailing cost of petroleum” today is $32.28 per barrel. In Feb 2015 it was $54.79 and in the same month in 2014 it was $104.83. So given the general decline in the price of oil how much money is the Bahamas going to realize IF oil is found? Why are we allowing them to rip up the seabed for pocket change? What does the government know that they are not telling us? Have the back door deals been concluded? This is outrageous!
Global Oil Glut
And who are they selling this oil to; when according to this article, tankers can’t offload their crude because storage space has run out. “Having exposed the world yesterday to the 2-mile long line of tankers-full’o’crude heading from Iraq to the US, several weeks after reporting that China has run out of oil storage space we can now confirm that the global crude “in transit” glut is becoming gargantuan and is starting to have adverse consequences on the price of oil.” Have we been completely duped?
More Money Please – the Audacity and Hypocrisy of it all!
While the Bahamian people pay for entire junkets for the Bahamas government to attend United Nations forums to beg for funding for adaptation to climate change – the government, has the audacity to push full speed ahead committing us to an industry that directly and severely impacts climate change, sea level rise, pollutes the air we breathe and wreaks havoc on the marine environment which is the basis of our economy! The hypocrisy is astonishing!
Transparency Accountability Rule of Law and Democracy are DEAD
As if the government doesn’t already lack transparency accountability and complete disregard and disrespect for the rule of law, they are currently proposing scandalous changes to the Planning and Subdivision Act which will essentially gut it, leaving the law useless – will oil exploration developers be let off the hook as proposed in these changes?
We can talk about fines all day every day – but here it is, BEC at Clifton and other sites in The Bahamas are haemorrhaging oil DAILY, in plain sight, and absolutely nothing is being done to stem the flow of oil into the marine environment and ground water. The changes to the Planning and Subdivision Act would let BEC off the hook – so that they would never have to clean up the disastrous mess at Clifton and other sites. With BPC’s oil drilling who is going to be the watchdog for this industry – or are we to believe that the industry and government will be honest with us. That is simply laughable.
Meanwhile, the government is pushing through with the National Intelligence Agency legislation so they can legalize spying on their citizens and other suspects, but the Bahamian people can’t get a Freedom of Information Act and the Planning and Subdivision Act gets gutted!
And what is a classic, but fully expected, low and underhanded move from the government in the dark’s oil propaganda camp, Attorney General Allyson Gibson remarked in the Nassau Guardian 4th Feb, 2016 that “Research shows Bahamians don’t want oil referendum.” Where is that research? Was it conducted in a Cabinet meeting? That could be the only place where such research would have been conducted and resulted in the desired outcome. We were promised a referendum BEFORE any oil exploration was conducted – then it got moved to after oil exploration in the hopes that IF we find oil the government will continue to appeal to the lowest common denominator – greed of the average person – so they can finish up their back door deals, and leave a legacy of environmental destruction and degradation in their path which our children will have to deal with. Shame on all of them!