Kaieteur News – The Chief Justice’s heavy case and workload has resulted in the delay of the decision of the case challenging the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) over ExxonMobil’s flaring, the High Court has said.
The Court, in response to questions posed by Kaieteur News, on Monday said that Chief Justice (ag) Roxane George-Wiltshire is committed to the delivery of justice in a fair and impartial manner.
“Please be assured that her Honour remains committed to serving and providing justice efficiently to all in all matter which fall for her consideration and adjudication. Her Honour remains committed to the delivery of justice in a fair, impartial and as efficient a manner as the prevailing circumstances will allow. This decision will be delivered at the soonest time possible,” the response by the Court’s Public Relations Officer (PRO) said.
Earlier this month, in a letter to the Editor, the applications who challenged the EPA, Sinikka Henry, Sherlina Nageer and Andriska Thorington complained that the ruling that was promised by Chief Justice Roxane George-Wiltshire is now delayed by six months.
The three Guyanese women had filed a case against the EPA last year for amendments made to ExxonMobil Corporation’s Stabroek Block permits to allow for excess flaring in exchange for a fee.
In the letter, the trio wrote, “We are ecologically minded Guyanese who care about the environment and are concerned about the extended and dangerous gas flaring from the oil production activities of ExxonMobil in Guyana’s offshore waters. As such, we became plaintiffs in a lawsuit against the Environmental Protection Agency of Guyana and Esso (Exploration and Production Guyana Limited).”
The women noted that the matter was heard by the Chief Justice on May 12, 2022. They said at the conclusion of the hearing, the Chief Justice indicated that she would deliver her decision in July 2022. “However, we are now in a new year and still awaiting the ruling, six months later than promised. Several letters inquiring about this judicial delay were sent from our Attorney to the Registrar of the Supreme Court, but to no avail. We are now ventilating this issue in the public domain in hopes of obtaining a speedy resolution to this matter,” the women stated in their letter.
The case which was filed in January 2022, through their Lawyers Melinda Janki and Ronald Burch-Smith, intended to secure an order that would stop excessive flaring by ExxonMobil’s subsidiary, EEPGL on the Liza Destiny vessel. Flaring had dragged on from December 2019 to mid-2022 due to a malfunctioning gas compressor which was subsequently fixed later last year.
The litigants contended that the EPA’s decision to modify Esso’s environmental permit to allow flaring was irrational and unlawful and that it should be quashed by the court. They also argued that the agency breached the Environmental Protection Act Chapter 20:05 by purporting to allow Esso to flare in return for paying a fee.
The litigants have asked for orders directing the agency to provide reports on the amount of gas flared, and the toxins released. They also asked for an independent and expert investigation into Esso’s compliance with manufacturer’s standards for operating its gas compressor.
Extensive research conducted by Kaieteur News shows that gas flaring contributes to climate change, which has serious implications for the human security and wellbeing globally. In fact, the Department of Mechanical Engineering at the University of Ibadan, Ibadan, Nigeria, outlined in one of its studies, that gas flaring is actually a major source of greenhouse gases, which accelerates global warming.
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