EDITOR, The Tribune.
Government enacted lockdowns during the COVID-19 pandemic have forced Bahamians to stay home, crushed the economy, and destroyed Bahamian businesses. Meanwhile, Bahamas Petroleum Company (BPC) – which is not Bahamian – has been allowed to forge ahead with its plans to drill for oil in The Bahamas.
This blatant act of discrimination by the government against Bahamians is unconscionable and unacceptable. It is also a slap in the face by the government and BPC because oil drilling will not create significant jobs for Bahamians, and drilling is an assault on the precious ecosystem that our lives and countless other forms of life depend on.
Numerous letters have been written to the media to express disapproval of drilling in The Bahamas. Requests have also been made to the Prime Minister to stop BPC from drilling. And the petition “Help Save The Bahamas From Oil Drilling” has gained international attention and support.
Despite public outcry against BPC, top government officials who opposed drilling have been silent, and BPC representatives have tried to convince Bahamians that oil drilling is safe and great for The Bahamas.
A lot has been written about the perceived benefits and the real risks of oil drilling in The Bahamas. So let’s discuss comments made by high-ranking politicians when they were not shy about voicing their opinions about drilling.
Let’s start with Mr. Perry Christie, former Prime Minister of The Bahamas. He said: “We took a position that if there is going to be the exploitation of oil in The Bahamas, it has to be done with the consent of the Bahamian people.”
And what about Mr Peter Turnquest, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance? Before he was elected to his current position, he addressed the Speaker of the House of Assembly and said that in a BPC discussion that he attended, BPC “indicated that there wasn’t going to be very many jobs for Bahamians.” Mr. Turnquest also said: “We must consider the importance of the environment and the many Bahamians who make their living from this resource. We must be sure that we do not authorize any new industry that will harm the number one pillar of our economy. Today we have sun, sand and sea. If we have a serious disaster, we will be left with sun. Think about it.”
And what did Dr. Hubert Minnis say to the Speaker of the House of Assembly about oil drilling before becoming Prime Minister? Well, he made a strong case against drilling in The Bahamas. He spoke about the devastating and long-term affects of the oil spills in Alaska and the Gulf of Mexico. Prime Minister Minnis also vehemently expressed his opposition to oil drilling when he asked: “How can a conscious people and a vigilant opposition trust the government when there is a petroleum disaster here at BEC, at Clifton Pier and in the Bay? At Clifton there’s oil visible at spots. And if they can’t clean up Clifton and the BEC disaster, can you truly believe that they can manage the entire ocean?”
Prime Minister Minnis asked important questions that all Bahamians can relate to. So, Mr. Prime Minister, here is a response to your questions:
We are a conscious people. We are a vigilant opposition. We do not trust the government or BPC. And we know they cannot manage an oil spill.
We have been blessed with a bio-diverse and beautiful ocean. It is the life-force and crown jewel of our country. We will fight to protect it.
Prime Minister Minnis, your comments and those of high-ranking politicians confirm that Bahamians have nothing to gain and everything to lose by drilling for oil in our magnificent ocean. Drilling also requires the consent of the Bahamian people.
The Bahamas took a step forward to protect the environment by banning single-use plastics and styrofoam. Now, Prime Minister Minnis, it is time to protect the environment by banning oil drilling in The Bahamas. When we protect the environment, we protect our lives and the lives of future generations. Think about it.
FORWARD, UPWARD, ONWARD, TOGETHER
November 18, 2020