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'Back And Forth' Over Oil Drilling Legislation

By DANA SMITH

Tribune Staff Reporter

dsmith@tribunemedia.net

ENVIRONMENT Minister Kenred Dorsett said his ministry is still involved in “a bit of back and forth” with the Attorney General’s Office after receiving the first draft of oil drilling legislation and sending it back “with comments”.

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Kenred Dorsett

Mr Dorsett said he is hoping the draft legislation – which contains a regulatory framework for oil exploration – will be “something that we are going to be able to deal with in this budget cycle.”

“It’s still a bit of back and forth between my ministry the Attorney General’s Office,” he said yesterday.

“A draft was submitted, we sent it back with our comments and so once again I promise the Bahamian people that we hope that it’s something that we are going to be able to deal with in this budget cycle and I still stand firm in wanting to do that.

“But it is a work in progress, I am happy that we have received the first draft, as I said, there’s exchanges between my office and the AG’s office and so we’re getting there.”

Attorney General Allyson Maynard-Gibson said last week that the public will be “satisfied” with the planned regulatory framework to be put in place ahead of the start of exploratory oil drilling – as it “meets the highest environmental and regulatory standards”.

She explained the framework is based on international standards and will be made public once the government is done revising it.

“The regulatory regime that we will be promulgating is one that has been bench-marked,” she said.

“It is something that the public will be satisfied with, it meets the highest environmental and regulatory standards.

“The prime minister made it very clear that we will not compromise the gift that God gave us which is a pristine environment.

“Of course, any development has some impact on the environment and we have to be able to, through bench-marking other jurisdictions, ensure that any risk is an acceptable risk and it is minimised.

“Like I said, the highest regulatory standards – according to internationally accepted norms – will be in place in the Bahamas.”

As the draft legislation moves through the Ministry of the Environment, on its way to Cabinet, Mrs Maynard-Gibson said the role of her office will be provide legal guidance.

“His ministry is responsible for consulting widely and we bring any assistance legally that we can to the table and he will, at the end of the day, having bench-marked what other jurisdictions do, advise Cabinet and in turn the media will be advised and the public will be advised,” she said.

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