By Benjamin Flowers, Staff Reporter
This week Oceana Belize held a press conference to explain the organization’s position on the draft Petroleum Exploration Zones and Exploration Guidelines, circulated to members of the NGO community by the government of Belize.
At the press conference held at the Belize Biltmore Plaza on Thursday, Oceana Vice President Janelle Chanona, presented factual data submitted to the Ministry of Energy Science and Technology and Public Utilities during the consultation period.
Chanona also expressed her disappointments in the Ministry’s failure to upgrade the donation plan to include the input from the environmental organizations. She said that while the ministry has acknowledged that it has received Oceana’s comments, no date has been set to continue consultations.
“To see that the map and the plan is the same that was presented in 2011, is disappointing to say the least,” she added.
Chief Executive Officer in the MESTPu, Dr. Colin Young, told the Reporter on Thursday that no date has been set because several of the environmental organizations wrote to the ministry, requesting an extension for them to submit their comments.
Young says that because of the critical role the organizations play in the planning process, the ministry is accommodating those requests. He added that the only NGO to submit their comments within the time limit was Oceana.
In its letter to the government, Oceana recommended that the government should withdraw the guidelines and conduct an impartial and comprehensive review of the potential risks and benefits of offshore oil exploration and development in Belize before taking any further action to authorize these activities in our invaluable marine environment.