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#397960 - 01/21/11 09:52 AM APAMO: PM incorrect on drilling in Sarstoon Temash
Marty Offline

APAMO says PM incorrect about drilling in Sarstoon Temash National Park

The anti-drilling movement in national parks is picking up steam. On Wednesday, the Coalition to Save Our National Heritage issued a release in support of Greg Ch’oc and SATIIM, which manages the Sarstoon Temash National Park. Initially Ch’oc reacted against statements made by the prime minister in which the PM indicated that drilling in the park would be allowed since a court case had been completed. The case, however, dealt with one aspect on seismic testing but did not include drilling. Continuous support for SATIIM was also heralded today by the Association of Protected Areas Management Organization. Edilberto Romero, APAMO’s Chairman, believes that the PM’s statement was inaccurate.

Edilberto Romero, Chairman, APAMO

Edilberto Romero

“The statement given by the PM kind of indicated that the Court has given a green light so to speak to do drilling in Sarstoon Temash National Park. We all know that the case was for seismic survey only. Drilling is a different phase in oil exploration and drilling should be done according to the laws and it is important that the national resources be protected. So in the first instance, even if is permitted there needs to be an environmental impact assessment. It is being said that drilling is going to be permitted, then by all means it will compromise the environmental impact assessment because it is automatically saying that if an E.I.A. is done, it will be approved. So it is a very inaccurate statement and to a certain extent, APAMO believes it is irresponsible because every development activity that has the potential to create a significant impact should first go through the process, should follow the laws before it is done, before it is permitted. And second, we are talking about a National Park that is created for the purpose of what a National Park is. And this means that the features, the characteristics and the natural resources in there should be considered. So that is the reason why APAMO is fully supportive of SATIIM’s reaction, Greg Ch’oc’s reaction against the statements of the Prime Minister and that the government and the Prime Minister should be serious about the management of Protected Areas.”

APAMO and SATIIM say they will do everything that is legally possible to challenge or stop the development without an Environmental Impact Assessment.

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#397969 - 01/21/11 10:28 AM Re: APAMO: PM incorrect on drilling in Sarstoon Temash [Re: Marty]
Marty Offline
Belize Coalition to Save Our Natural Heritage Supports SATIIM’s Opposition to Oil Exploration in the Sarstoon-Temash National Park

Belize City, Belize, January 19, 2011 - - The Belize Coalition to Save Our Natural Heritage supports SATIIM in its opposition to oil exploration in the Sarstoon Temash National Park, a protected area, by US Capital Energy. The Coalition also firmly rejects the Prime Minister’s publicly stated position that oil exploration and exploitation should be allowed in protected areas.

Protected areas in Belize have been designated as such to safeguard ecosystem services such as the provision of clean water, clean air and food, and to maintain biodiversity. In addition, both marine and terrestrial protected areas are the primary tourist visitation sites in the country. Countries such as Ecuador have allowed oil companies to exploit oil from ecologically sensitive areas with devastating effects. Over three decades after fourteen thousand barrel of oil spilled in the Ecuador Amazon, the effects on people’s health and lives continue.

The minimal economic benefits that the people of Belize are receiving from tax revenues from oil exploitation do not outweigh the high risk of an oil spill in ecologically sensitive areas during the exploratory or exploitation phase.

We call on the Government of Belize to rescind its policy of allowing oil exploration and exploitation in protected areas and in our marine waters through the cancellation of leases issued within these areas, and protect the livelihoods and health of all Belizeans.

Join the Belize Coalition to Save our Natural Heritage in its fight. Contact us at 223-7962 or at coalitioncoordinator@apamo.net.


The Belize Coalition to Save Our Natural Heritage protects our natural heritage by serving as a channel for the voice of the people through advocacy, education, research and actions, which promote the best interest of Belize and its people.

#398102 - 01/22/11 09:59 AM Re: APAMO: PM incorrect on drilling in Sarstoon Temash [Re: Marty]
Marty Offline

By Harry Lawrence - Publisher of the Reporter

This time the challenge is coming from SATIM, the Sarstoon-Temash Institute for Indigenous Management which has charge of the Sartoon-Temash National Park..

Mr. Greg Ch’oc, the park’s General Manager, is saying that under the National Parks Act, no one is authorized to drill for oil in that sacrosanct nature preserve.

This is clearly an untenable position, and if indeed there is such a law, it should be amended immediately.

Drilling for oil is not like logging for timber. Loggers have to clear the forest to build dirt roads. Their hunt for good timber causes them to cut down many trees, denuding the forest, causing loss of topsoil and subsequent erosion.

Drilling for oil is nothing like that. One only needs to visit Spanish Lookout to see an oil well at work. It works night and day, silently among the gently rolling landscape, almost unnoticed in the pristine countryside.

In California there are clusters of these producing oil wells sitting smack in the middle of urban developed areas, with no negative effect on the community. Fully developed feeder roads lead to and from these wells.

Under Belizean law, landowners have sovereign rights to the surface of the land they own, but all mineral rights, including oil and ore, are vested in the government. This is true also of organizations and agencies which manage land or parks for the Government. Such managers do not have the authority to prevent the government from carrying out exploration or mining, especially where there appear to be good prospects for discovering oil.

In resisting exploration in the Sarstoon-Temash National Park, SATIIM is doing a disservice to the people of Belize and standing in the way of progress. Belize needs to produce more oil because oil enriches a country and its people.

Last year SATIIM objected to the carrying out of seismic surveys in the Park, on the pretext that the small underground explosions would scare off the wild animals that use the park. SATIIM took the matter to court and lost. The court ruled that the Government of Belize has the authority to authorize seismic surveys, even in its national parks.

One does not carry out seismic surveys merely for the sake of research. The surveys are intended to show whether there are realistic prospects for finding oil.

The Prime Minister has said that the surveys in the Sarstoon-Temash National Park show good promise, and has expressed the view that the exploration company, U.S. Capital Energy, should proceed.

This is expected and perfectly normal behaviour for any government, and we commend the Prime Minister and his Government for their resolution to proceed with this important exploration.

If Belize finds oil in Toledo, or anywhere else, everybody in our country will benefit. More of our children will enjoy free education, and our taxes will not be as burdensome as they are today. Oil has a way of attracting petro-chemical industries, and the first industrial cluster in Belize will bring about the beginning of a transformation which is the hope of the nation.

There are some dangers, of course. Oil spills are everybody’s nightmare. But hundreds of other countries have managed their petroleum industry without spills and with good management.
Belize can do the same!


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