Remember COLA? They started out as the Citizens to Oust Lord Ashcroft – but bigger issues have emerged and the group has another name, the Citizens Organized for Liberty through Action. And the action they are now talking is against the Department of Geology and Petroleum. COLA is angry about an offshore oil exploration license given to Chinese Petroleum Corporation. According to reports, the oil exploration encompasses "an area roughly covering 1,800 square miles mostly off the shores of the Belize City and Stann Creek Districts, which includes much of the Turneffe Atolls, a part of Glovers Reef, as well as the waters very near to San Pedro, Ambergris Caye in the North and Dangriga in the South." It is a huge area and COLA says there is legitimate reason for concern because of the great environmental dangers associated with offshore drilling. COLA has demanded to see all the relevant documents and is asking for explanations. COLA Executive member Geovannie Brackett is the one spearheading the issue.

Geovannie Brackett, COLA
“Offshore drilling has serious implications. Oil spill is the general concern everybody would be concerned. The indication that I have gathered from reading the article in the Amandala or even asking around to government officials trying to get information is that there is no need to worry because the technology is highly sophisticated and so there is no threat to environment, to the marine environment or the barrier reef. Was there any contingency plan mandated by our laws for these companies to provide and I am talking specifically for off shore drilling because when you drill for oil on land it is one thing. Drilling for oil in the ocean is a whole other story. We need to check if our law differentiates between onshore drilling and offshore drilling. In my estimate and what I’ve checked so far, and the guys, the specialists in Belize can correct me, they don’t.

We talk about technology, they want to bring the argument of technology, that we don’t have to worry, it is the Taiwanese, they are highly technological. We should also remember that these guys aren’t the best environmentalists in the world either too. What you should know is that in Australia, a pipe that was drilled 3,000 feet into the ground, the seabed, had a leakage that caused it to blow the top off the rig. One million, three hundred thousand gallons of oil was spilled. The experts, the environmentalists there, say there is no technology in the world that can clean up that mess. I certainly don’t see why it is that we have to rush into off shore drilling.

We are awaken here at COLA to deal with environmental issues as well as among other issues. So this is just one aspect that we want the people of Belize, even if the majority might not be knowledgeable about it, then it is our job to get the information out. And if we don’t get it by means of letter and proper means, we are willing to go to court.”

Cola has invoked the Freedom of Information Act to request a copy of all documents related to the project.

Channel 7