The problem here is far deeper than just recognizing the ecological hazard. Until we have a population of around 1,000,000 we dont have tax base to even supply services to the towns. Petroleum is giving the govt over $100million USD annually. If they could get an additional $100 million from offshore income they would have more money to waste but of course it would be very significant to the budget as its all foreign exchange. Its a risk/reward situation and the currency of the debate is monetary values not ecology. The perceived reward is large and since they dont depend on the reef and sea for a living their perceived risk is very small. I am trying to develop a way to value the reef in dollars terms. For example Hol Chan has 52,000 paid visitors last year at $20 US is $1million+ USD directly into the pockets of the people minus fuel of course.. There are published numbers that would indicate $5M USD annually in San Pedro from Sport fishing. Anybody have an idea of how much is spent here each year diving the reef? As nondepreciating assets these natural assets have tremendous value which we must show the govt to be successful.
Just a terrible shame that there will be nobody there who knows anything about drilling. It will probably be a re-run of the disinformation presented at the Belize City meeting. Someone stand up and ask Dr McField exactly where the 12 tons of heavy metals comes from?
No Marty, I was saying no such thing. I was simply stating that the presenters knew very little about drilling. They know tons about the subject that they are experts in, but not a single one of them specialises in cleaning up oil spills, or is qualified to present the risks in a balanced way.
I thought the most telling presentation was from the lawyer. She made it clear that the people of Belize, by which she meant anyone living or owning property here, have been royally shafted by successive governments and we have minimal legal rights. That the massive profits that will probably accrue from any successful drilling operation will be syphoned off so that no benefit is felt by the Belizean people. And that there will be no money available from anyone, least of all the companies engaged in drilling, to clean up a major spill.
The insidious hand of corruption is clearly visible in that permits to drill have been awarded to companies which do not meet the already low standards imposed by GoB. Since when was the Princess Group known for its oil drilling expertise and equipment?
I'm not concerned with the minutiae of technical aspects of drilling and whether there will be a heavy metal problem or not. Those questions pale into insignificance compared with the deep corruption which has ensured that no matter what the Belizean people WILL be shafted, for no monetary gain by them whatsoever. I believe the technical term is SNAFU.
UDP Mayor To GOB on Offshore Drilling: "Have Some Consideration!"
"The Coalition to Save Our National Heritage" - that's the name of the group that wants a ban on offshore oil drilling in Belize. They've been getting support from a wide cross section of civil society but they got a major boost from the political establishment when the UDP Mayor Of San Pedro Elsa Paz came out in support of their cause. She gave the endorsement when the coalition spokespersons were on Reef Radio in San Pedro town this morning. And speaking to Janelle Chanona this afternoon in Belize City, she expanded on it:...
Elsa Paz, Mayor Of San Pedro "First of all, I would like to say that myself and my council, we are totally against the oil drilling especially like right now we are seeing the problem with Mexico with the spill of oil there. I think this is a big concern to the whole country of Belize not only San Pedro but the whole coast of Belize and what impacts that will bring to our reef. I believe that government should have some kind of consideration before doing any decisions of this type. I have always said that both administrations don't have respect for local authorities like myself with my council because we are not informed of what is happening in our island. There are a lot of times that government will just compensate companies or individuals for land in San Pedro or whenever government gets into problems they will always pick San Pedro for a reason I don't know. They will always pick on San Pedro to give acres and acres of land for compensations and in a case like this for this approval of oil drilling and any environmental concern there is a lot of times that this private sectors or investors go all the way Belmopan to get these approvals. I believe as local authorities we should be informed and there should be public consultation or at least consult with the local authorities to see if we agree with the project before they go ahead and do any approvals."
Janelle Chanona "So how would you go about getting that respect that you think that the town council deserves?"
Elsa Paz "Well I believe that government should work more closely to us to have a better communication. There are a lot of times that I have been in Belmopan especially with Minister of Natural Resources which is one of the biggest ministries and one of the ministries that has to do a lot with the island when it comes to forestry and all kind of environmental issues that are happening on the island. I believe that government should come together with us and try to work together with us because as I tell you this oil drilling, I heard it on the news, that's the way I found out about it."