OIL is the focus of attention across The Bahamas – and farther afield too, it would seem.
As protestors put up their signs against oil drilling here, US politicians were putting pen to paper over there to write to Prime Minister Dr Hubert Minnis in objection.
For his part, Dr Minnis has already declared his opposition to the drilling that is due to start soon with the drillship almost in position.
Dr Minnis said earlier this month that he is “totally against” oil drilling in Bahamian waters.
He said: “Unfortunately, we were saddled with an agreement that we met there. When we discussed it with the legal department, we were advised that the commitment and everything was signed and basically we could not get out of it.
“But if we could’ve gotten out of it believe me, I am against totally drilling for oil in our waters.”
Of course, we could do with more detail on that objection. Does he fear the risk of a spill? Is he concerned about the level of risk with this project? If so, are we sleepwalking towards a potential disaster?
Of all the objections that matter, the ones that matter least are the ones from the US. This still remains a matter of Bahamian sovereignty and for Bahamians to decide.
To that end, the correct avenue to resolve any difficulties would be in the courts. It seems odd, certainly, that private citizens are mounting a legal challenge where the government would not – but at the very least, we hope those activists who have put a case forward for a judicial review get the opportunity to do so.
They need a court date, and they need a judge – and on a matter of such importance to our nation, we hope they get them.
There is a lot of talk about the safety of this project, and of the level of risk it represents to our nation’s environment – including the knock-on effects it would have on tourism in a worst-case scenario. We have already seen the impact on our economy if we have a significant blow to tourism in this pandemic year – we do not want to endanger it again.
So to see these matters resolved in a court of law seems the best way forward. The best for the activists to be able to make their case. The best for the Bahamas Petroleum Company to show they have ticked every box and covered every risk.
The government has its own answers to give – as Fred Smith, QC, makes clear in today’s Tribune – such as clarifying whether the oil explorer has been granted all the permits it needs for exploratory drilling under the Acts passed by Parliament.
BPC of course want to get on with things – it has been a long time coming for them to get to this point.
But for the good of all, wouldn’t it be best for a court to rule, rather than a case hanging over matters as it is now?
A fine example
Well done to nurse Ramanda Lee, who became one of the first Bahamians to get the COVID-19 vaccine last Friday – and was happy to show the world.
While we here at home are not likely to see the vaccine until the spring, Ramanda was able to get it earlier thanks to working as a healthcare worker in Florida.
There are plenty of scare stories circulating on the internet about vaccines, but Ramanda was able to reassure those with doubts – not least because those same stories had made her sceptical herself, saying “it does put a fear in you”.
But in the end? “It was just like every other vaccination,” she said.
So we applaud Ramanda for leading the way – and we hope that we can soon follow where she has led.