NASSAU, BAHAMAS — The Bahamas National Trust (BNT) yesterday doubled down on its stance against oil drilling in the country, saying that it “stands with every Bahamian speaking out against” it.
Bahamas Petroleum Company (BPC) is expected begin drilling an exploratory oil well next month despite pushback from a number of local and international environmentalists.
In its statement, the BNT said: “Since the release of its last statement on proposed oil exploration in The Bahamas, the Bahamas National Trust has closely followed the national and international discussion on this issue.
“A growing number of Bahamians are clearly opposed to and not willing to accept the risks associated with an oil industry in The Bahamas. The prevailing view is there is simply too much at stake. As a staunch defender of the Bahamian environment, the BNT is categorically opposed to oil exploration in The Bahamas. The BNT stands with every Bahamian speaking out against proposed oil exploration in our ocean nation.
“Bahamian communities rely on healthy ocean ecosystems to support jobs in fishing, recreation and tourism. The oil industry’s track record in often failing to protect the environment effectively makes such developments too big a risk to be allowed in our fragile ocean nation.
“An oil spill can irreversibly damage our oceans, threaten our tourism industry, and our very way of life. The 2010 BP Deepwater Horizon disaster proves that no amount of reward from oil drilling is worth the risks of a potential disaster.”
The BNT pointed out that the proposed well by BPC is “incredibly close to the Cay Sal Bank”, which is a government marine-protected area and which BNT said “one of the most ecologically productive and economically important marine systems in the country”.
BNT Executive Director Eric Carey noted, “The importance of the Cay Sal Bank for biodiversity and the fishing industry in The Bahamas cannot be overstated. Because of its critical importance, any pollution of the area would be devastating for The Bahamas, our fishing industry and the country’s food security.”
The statement continued: “Tourism is the top economic driver of The Bahamas. We risk turning our coastal tourist destination into an oil nation. The nation’s tourism industry relies on clean, swimmable waters and healthy ocean ecosystems to thrive. Oil drilling and exploration threaten clean coastal economies.
“Furthermore, The Bahamas is known to be one of the most vulnerable nations on the planet to the impending impacts of climate change, which is now recognized as an existential threat to The Bahamas. The country, our people and our way of life could disappear if we are not successful as a global community in reversing the factors of a changing climate.”
Acknowledging that the Bahamas government has previously spoken out on the impact of climate change, the BNT said “the country would be sending a careless signal of hypocrisy to the world” by allowing the exploratory drilling for fossil fuels.
“The benefits of fossil fuels are finite and insignificant compared to the cost of global climate change,” its statement read. “We should not compound the damage of increased storm activity and sea levels due to global climate change with the risks associated with oil exploration.
“Drilling for oil would require us to ignore the damage of Hurricane Dorian and other storms. We would be overlooking the harm done to Grand Bahama in the Equinor spill. We would be turning a blind eye to obvious risks to our own well-being.”
It added, “The BNT rejects oil drilling and chooses our oceans.”