Letters — 20 May 2010 — by Candy Gonzalez
May 20, 2010
BELPO has long opposed offshore oil exploration. There is no offset for the potential risks.
We opposed the amendment to the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) Regulations (2007) that moved the activity of “oil exploration” from Schedule I (meaning there MUST be an EIA) into Schedule II (meaning an EIA MAY be needed).
We pointed to the fact that once oil is discovered, it is too late to do an EIA. A company will immediately go into high gear to pump that oil out of the ground; they will not stop to do an EIA.
Even before the Regulations were changed, that is how Belize Natural Energy (BNE) acted. They did an EIA after the fact and the Department of Environment (DOE) allowed it to happen.
How can we trust that other companies will not do the same thing. Even if there are requirements, who will enforce them? The DOE did not act as a true regulator with BNE, which is situated within a community where there are many people viewing what is happening. We doubt they would have the capacity, even if they had the will, to monitor something happening in the middle of the Sea.
Regardless of the hope of revenues, the risk is too high. The Belize Barrier Reef System is not only a national treasure and source of pride, income and sustenance for the people of Belize, it is also a World Heritage Site — a world heritage site in danger. To allow offshore oil exploration is to put it in more danger.
The Reef is irreplaceable. No price can be placed on it and its value to the country.
BELPO, President of the Board