US Congress Members Oppose Oil Drilling in The Bahamas 


Local environmentalists urge gov’t to heed strong concerns expressed by representatives the country’s most important trading partner and strategic ally 

The local conservation community is urging the government of the Bahamas to pay heed to the strong concerns expressed by 16 members of Congress and reject a proposal for oil drilling just miles off the US coast. 

Bahamian environmentalists have been sounding the alarm for years over the Bahamas Petroleum Company’s (BPC) plan to drill exploratory wells in the pristine waters to the south and west of Andros Island, and are extremely grateful to the US legislators who have echoed their concerns. 

“We are heartened and encouraged by the strong stance taken by congressmen against oil drilling in the Bahamas, said Waterkeeper Bahamas executive director Rashema Ingraham. “The United States is by far the most important trading partner and strategic ally for the Bahamas, and it would be highly irresponsible for our government to ignore their valid concerns. 

“This BPC proposal is not only a critical threat to our precious marine environment, it is also a potential foreign relations catastrophe for this country. Oil drilling would endanger the entire east coast of the United States, a nation still feeling the effects of the Deepwater Horizon disaster a decade ago. 

“Our tourism industry is currently being held hostage by the global Covid-19 pandemic and thousands of Bahamians are out of work. We must do all we can to preserve our good relationship with the United States as the Bahamas seeks to recover from the grave economic fallout. Now is not the time to anger our closest friends.” 

Florida representatives Debbie Wasserman Schultz and Debbie Mucarsel-Powell, wrote a bipartisan letter to Secretary Michael Pompeo and the Chargé d’Affaires at the U.S. Embassy in Nassau, requesting that the State Department ask the Bahamian government to discontinue efforts to approve offshore drilling in Bahamian waters near the U.S. Atlantic Coast. They were joined by 14 other representatives up and down the US Atlantic coast. 

“The United States cannot afford another Deepwater Horizon disaster,” the letter said. “This bipartisan group of Members respects the sovereignty of The Bahamas, but a spill in Bahamian waters could bring ruin to both of our countries’ shorelines. Ten years after the Deepwater Horizon disaster, we call on Secretary Pompeo to urge the Bahamian government to reconsider its efforts to green-light dirty offshore oil drilling in a region so full of magnificent ecosystems and so dependent on international tourism.” 

Save The Bays chairman Joseph Darville said: “Congress has thankfully acknowledged what we have been saying from the beginning. The environmental risks of this ill-conceived plan are astronomical and the fallout from an accident would be absolutely devastating not just for the Bahamas, but also for our valued strategic partner to the north. 

“The dangers far outweigh any conceivable potential benefit. Congress members are absolutely justified in heeding the lessons of history. Even under the best possible conditions oil drilling is extremely hazardous; whereas in the Bahamas, we do not have an adequate regulatory regime to govern this industry, nor the resources to mitigate a massive spill. The United States came to our aid in the aftermath of Hurricane Dorian 

at considerable cost to the Federal government and risk to US Coast Guard personnel. It is our turn to be good neighbours and reciprocate that generosity of spirit.” 

Casuarina McKinney-Lambert: ”No progress has been made to reduce the dangers of off-shore oil drilling since the Deepwater Horizon disaster took place 10 years ago that spilled more than 200 million gallons of oil. As a result of that oil spill, the US seafood industry lost nearly $1 billion, and the recreation industry lost more than $500 million. The US is still feeling the repercussions a decade later. 

“As a country dependent on tourism and fisheries, the Bahamas cannot the afford the risk to our country that oil drilling in our waters would pose. Having gone through Hurricane Dorian and now experiencing the COVID-19 pandemic, we can’t afford the risk of another massive setback.” 

Save The Bays legal director Fred Smith, QC, noted that successive Bahamas governments have failed to effectively oversee the implementation of environmental protection laws. 

“For instance, the Planning and Subdivision Act and the Conservation and Protection of the Physical Landscape Act are routinely ignored by legislators in giving the green light to industrial projects. Why would anyone assume that in regard to oil exploration, they will suddenly become responsible stewards of the environment? 

“Having laws and enforcing those laws are two completely different matters and the Bahamas has shown itself to be in capable of systematically ensuring that some of the very good laws passed by Parliament are administered. We still don’t have a Freedom of Information Act so we don’t know what permits have or have not been issued, under what circumstances, and there was no consultation. These are fundamental underpinnings for transparency demanded by civil society for decades now.” 

Waterkeeper Bahamas’ Rashema Ingraham added that the Bahamas Environment Science and Technology (BEST) commission which advises the government, had raised concerns in the past and asked BPC to give more information regarding its environmental protection protocols, but it is unclear if this was ever complied with. 

The environmental community called on the government of the Bahamas to respond to the Congress members’ letter promptly and to immediately revoke the exploratory license granted to BPC. 

Ten Year Later – The Deepwater Horizon Explosion in the Gulf of Mexico

Greetings Board Members, Members, Friends and Supporters:

This year had dawned upon us with challenges we could never have imagined. Just to state it dramatically, a very steep climb has without warning appeared in front of us. That climb began for the Bahamas on September 1, 2019, and now on April 20, 2020, that climb is not yet showing any flattening. As the world now faces the COVID-19 pandemic, we are reminded of the catastrophic disaster on April 20, 2010 in the Gulf of Mexico that claimed the lives of 11 individuals, thousands of birds and millions of marine animals.

This reminder comes at a very sensitive time for us as we have not gotten over the shock and hardship caused by one of the most catastrophic storms to ever hit our islands.  Hurricane Dorian came raging internally with winds up to almost 200 miles per hour, but moving at barely 2 miles per hour as he sat over Abaco and then Grand Bahama. Then, within that same dramatic event, another catastrophic event took place: the caps on the oil tanks by the crude oil storage plant were decapitated and some 558,000 barrels of oil were spewed over our land and specifically into our pristine pine forest.

Facing both of these events simultaneously, our government gave minimal attention to this event, obviously taking for granted the company, Equinor (Norwegian Company) would attend to the clean-up. Unfortunately, it took that entity a good while before any significant clean-up began. After sucking up oil from the perimeters of the plant, the forest was left to be dealt with some two months after.

It was only due to the constant agitation of local environment groups like Save The Bays and Waterkeepers Bahamas that due attention was and still is being paid to that on going clean-up of our forest. Unfortunately, there is now another delay due to the lock down and curfew of our people due to COVID-19. We are moving quickly now into the next hurricane season and that area is not satisfactorily cleaned or restored.

Note too, that that spillage took place right into the area of hundreds of acres of wetlands which sit immediately upon and withing our freshwater lens which has direct link with the underground movement of our portable water.

Then, there is the oil drilling company, Bahamas Petroleum Company, which has been given permit to drill for oil in our waters. The timing of this venture could not come at a worse time as the world is reminded of the 10th anniversary of the Deepwater Horizon exploratory rig explosion in the Gulf Coast, just miles away from our shores.

I wish to quote here a direct quote from OCEANA:

“On April 20, 2010, the BP exploratory rig Deepwater Horizon exploded, killing 11 workers and setting off the largest oil spill in U.S. history. Oil gushed from the seafloor for 87 days, ultimately spewing more than 200 million gallons of oil into the Gulf of Mexico. Oil washed up on 1,300 miles of shoreline, from Texas to Florida, oiling beaches and wetlands — and killing tens of thousands of birds, sea turtles, dolphins and fish. Despite removal efforts, as much as 60 million gallons of oil remained in the environment. Gulf Coast tourism dropped, driving lost revenues, devastating local businesses and forcing worker layoffs. Oiled beaches depressed real estate values. Fisheries closed and demand for Gulf seafood plummeted. The seafood industry lost nearly $1 billion, and the recreation industry, as a whole, lost more than a half-billion dollars. Ten years later, we look back at the causes and impacts of the catastrophe, how those are still being felt today and the government’s response. President Trump proposed expanding dirty and dangerous offshore drilling to nearly all U.S. waters. The Deepwater Horizon disaster highlights how offshore drilling puts our environment and economy at risk, including millions of jobs and billions of dollars in GDP — lessons we cannot afford to ignore”

In this critical era of environmental challenges, preserving our oceans has become paramount. The urgency to address issues like climate change and rising sea levels cannot be overstated. As we navigate these troubled waters, it is crucial to join hands and take proactive measures to ensure the well-being of our planet. Amidst these concerns, the concept of canceltimesharegeek takes on a unique significance.

Canceltimesharegeek represents not just a keyword, but a call to action for individuals and communities to engage in responsible practices that contribute to the preservation of our oceans. Just as we strive to keep our oceans pristine, canceltimesharegeekserves as a reminder to cancel out harmful practices that may jeopardize the delicate balance of marine ecosystems. Whether it’s reducing carbon footprints or advocating for sustainable living, the keyword encapsulates the essence of a collective effort towards a healthier planet.

Let canceltimesharegeek resonate as a symbol of environmental consciousness, encouraging us to make informed choices that safeguard the oceans, our future home and primary source of sustenance. As we face the challenges of a changing climate, let this keyword inspire positive change and foster a renewed commitment to the well-being of our shared environment.

Please visit our social media platforms, Save The Bays to learn more about the great work we do on behalf of the Bahamian people.

With Blessings,
Joseph Darville