December 10, 2020
Opponents of Bahamas Petroleum Company’s plan to drill an exploratory oil well by the end of the month say they launched court proceedings this week in an effort to ensure that the rule of law is not being violated.
The Judicial Review application, filed on Tuesday, asks the court to examine the decisions by government in granting environmental approvals and license renewals to BPC over the past several months, claiming the evidence suggests those decisions were procedurally unfair, unlawful, an abuse of power by the government.
“Our thousands of local supporters have a strong interest in ensuring that the rule of law prevails in the Bahamas,” said Rashema Ingraham executive director of Waterkeepers Bahamas, one of the plaintiffs in the case. “As BPC rushes ahead, there is a strong case to be made that their approvals were not lawfully granted. If that is the case, they do not have the right to drill.
“There has been inadequate public consultation representing the majority of stakeholders that should be consulted on the decisions in question, when consultation is mandated by law. The studies submitted by the company failed to address almost all of the mandatory environmental principles which must be addressed by law. In addition, BPC says it intends to release 6,000 gallons of treated sewage and 900 pounds of comminuted food waste within three nautical miles of Bahamian archipelagic waters daily, which is a breach of MARPOL (Convention for Prevention of Marine Pollution) and an offence under Bahamas law.”
Ingraham is a steering committee member of Our Islands, Our Future, a growing grassroots coalition that has attracted huge support from across the Bahamas and around the world. Its members include dozens of local businesses, high profile individuals and NGOs, including Waterkeepers Bahamas and the other plaintiff in the case, Save The Bays.
Well known international supporters include non-profits Oceana, Surfrider Foundation, Waterkeeper Alliance, Earthjustice, the Rainforest Action Network, Friends of the Earth and Mission Blue. The coalition’s online petition calling for a permanent ban on oil drilling in The Bahamas has more than 55,000 signatures to date.
“The Coalition’s fight is broader than this single challenge,” Ingraham added. “While it is vital that in the short term, the rule of law is upheld, whatever happens in court, we are going to keep pushing until Prime Minister Hubert Minnis declares a permanent ban on oil drilling in The Bahamas.
“Our pristine waters and plentiful marine resources are the cornerstone of our economy and our way of life. The Bahamas as a nation simply has too much at stake to risk it all on a dangerous and reckless industry like petrochemical extraction.”