Nov 22, 2021 Editorial
It is worrying to learn of a supposedly ‘independent’ Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) for the Yellowtail Project carried the signature of a PPP candidate from the 2020 elections. That shouldn’t be, but there it was, and people got caught with their pants around their ankles. It was a terrible sight, one which conveys the extent of the deceptions attempted through public consultations, the works that are held out to be ‘independent’ studies, but are not. Faces got red, tongues tangled, and stupidities came gushing from the mouths of those bent on deceiving Guyanese, including foreigners.
They claim it was a mistake, part of the frantic damage control attempts, but then insulted us by insisting that the EIA is still credible. It cannot be so, not when a rank political insider is so close to it. This instance of slippage is only the tip of the iceberg that deliberately kept in-the-dark Guyanese get a glimpse of occasionally. It only happens when somebody is sloppy, wasn’t careful enough. It is confirmation of how collaborating Guyanese, who consent to be involved in such hoaxes, through sheer unmitigated greed, allow themselves to be part of the dirty games played by the PPP Government and Exxon.
Our own Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), which is mandated to watch out for Guyanese, tries to pull the wool over the eyes of Guyanese citizens. Instead of being there for this country, the handiwork of the local EPA makes it eligible for treason charges, when one considers its failures, its grievous mistakes, and coverups. Worse still, when the sum of its lamebrain defenses is analysed, it is clear that the record of the dismal EPA is not a failing of its public officers, but of those political leaders who handcuff them, muzzle them, and use them in nonstop efforts to make total fools of Guyanese. Which principled Guyanese can ever trust anyone of these troubled local operators – politicians, public service professionals, and those craven partisans who run to the rescue – pretend to represent us, do good for us?
Now, Exxon, the PPP, and Guyana’s EPA must be sorry that their public consultation farce is blowing up in their faces. This arrangement that they came up with, where softball questions were expected, and vague and meaningless answers were given in turn has turned out to be a boomerang, which has peeled the skin from their scarred faces. The more recent public consultations are not going the way that Exxon and the local EPA, the front people, had planned. We say this, and the record is clear: the people that Exxon put to represent it cannot answer the simplest, most innocent of questions.
It is not that they don’t know, only that they have been instructed to stick to pure corporate speak, which is full of fluff, and empty of anything revealing. Well, that is not working, because Guyanese (and concerned neighbours in the region) are asking the hard questions that pierce the layers of slickness.
Exxon’s people are not prepared to go where straight answers would lead, for then more than one dangerous truths would come to light, and there is no telling where those could end, what may be the result.
What was enlightening is how Guyana’s EPA seemed to be more on the side of the outsiders, as if it was working for them, and a tool of theirs. One cannot shake the feeling that in the minds of Guyanese at our own EPA, its first duty belonged not to this country, but to Exxon. It was so obvious that it was nauseating.
Still, we feel sorry for the people at the EPA, because they have a dirty job to do. They do it right (for Guyanese) and they incur the personally destructive wrath of vengeful political leaders; they do it wrong, and vigilant and angry Guyanese do not let them off the hook. Since Guyanese cannot fire them, or disgrace them and sabotage their careers, like political leaders are capable of doing, then officials at the EPA take the lesser risk, which is to come out against citizens, thereby affording them staying power before PPP powers.
Hence, we live with sham EIAs and public consultations lacking substance.
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