By NEIL HARTNELL
Tribune Business Editor
Environmental activists yesterday renewed arguments that a permanent ban on oil drilling in Bahamian waters “really makes sense now” as they urged the Davis administration to act.
Principals of then Our Islands, Our Future coalition, in a January 12, 2022, letter to Prime Minister Philip Davis QC, asserted that “this is the time to get out” of exploratory oil drilling given rising climate change concerns and the fact that the former Bahamas Petroleum Company (BPC) possesses no active licences.
“This is our time to act now, and with a sense of urgency as we have no legal obligation that would prevent us from doing so,” said Casuarina McKinney-Lambert, the Bahamas Reef Environment Educational Foundation (BREEF) head, and Rashema Ingraham of Waterkeepers Bahamas.
“This is clearly not the time to get into this business, this is the time to get out, and progress towards stronger blue and green economies for The Bahamas and a sustainable future. For the first time since 2007 there are no active oil drilling licences in The Bahamas. Please help lead this by banning fossil fuel exploration and drilling in The Bahamas.”
Asked by this newspaper how confident activists were that the Government will move in this direction, Mrs McKinney-Lambert replied: “A permanent ban on oil drilling really makes sense at this point in time given that the exploration licences have been expired for more than six months.
“I feel confident that we are moving in the right direction. It’s the right thing to do to safeguard Bahamian lives and livelihoods.” Upon his return from the global climate summit in Glasgow, the Prime Minister indicated that while he might allow exploratory drilling he would not permit actual oil production/extraction but instead seek to use this as leverage to obtain carbon credit compensation.
“We wish to reiterate our recent expression to you, dated 18 October, 2021, of our vigorous opposition to oil drilling in Bahamian waters and strongly urge that we move together to impose a permanent ban on fossil fuels exploration anywhere in our maritime borders,” Ms McKinney-Lambert and Ms Ingraham added.
“As we have all learned of and experienced the damaging impacts of global warming to coastal nations like The Bahamas, we must all agree that such oil development activity would only exacerbate our current climate crisis.
“The permanent ban will move The Bahamas away from filling the dual roles of climate victims and of a fossil fuel colony for investors, and allow us to build up and grow stronger blue and green economies.”
Ms McKinney-Lambert also reiterated calls for the Government to publish key details regarding BPC’s (now Challenger Energy Group) first Perseverance One exploratory well, including the licence agreement, as well as provide an update on the status of its licence renewal bid.