Latest update March 28th, 2023 12:59 AM
Feb 03, 2023 News
– say oil company did not meet all legal requirements, call for end to pattern of lawlessness
Kaieteur News – Two Guyanese women are of the firm conviction that the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) breached the law when it issued an environmental permit to Esso Exploration and Production Guyana Ltd. (EEPGL) for the US$2B Gas-to-Energy project.
Specifically, Elizabeth Deane-Hughes and Vanda Radzik have, through their Attorney-at-Law, Melinda Janki, on January 31, 2023 requested that the EPA’s Executive Director, Kemraj Parsram revoke EEPGL environmental permit without delay.
In explaining the basis for such a request, the women outlined that Regulation 17(2) of the Environmental Protection (Authorisation) Regulations requires that an application for authorisation, contain the following information: “(ii) proof that the applicant either owns the facility or has a lease or other agreement with the landowner or occupier to enable the applicant to conduct the activity on the facility or has the legal right of way to conduct the activity without the consent of the landowner or occupier.”
The women contend in their letter to the EPA Head that EEPGL’s application, dated June 24, 2021, contains no proof as required by the regulation. Elizabeth Deane Hughes and Vanda Radzik said, “Pipelines are notoriously dangerous. People’s lives, livelihoods and lands are at risk. And yet EEPGL cannot even fill in the application form properly and the EPA does not even bother to check its own requirements. We are citizens of Guyana and are deeply concerned at the pattern of lawlessness that is evident in EEPGL’s operations and that of the Government of Guyana.”
The women also recalled that in 2020, it was President, Dr. Irfaan Ali who said that, “We cannot lead in a way that is disrespectful to our country.”
Despite making such a statement, the women opined that EEPGL, in collusion with the Government of Guyana, has repeatedly shown contempt for the nation’s laws and for citizens’ well-being. On this note, they demanded that the Government puts the interests of the Guyanese people above EEPGL’s.
Additionally, the women were keen to note that the route for the proposed pipeline runs from Nouvelle Flanders to through Canal No 1 to Wales. They said that lands within the proposed pipeline route are held by Guyanese citizens who live, farm, and earn a living from these lands.
They said too that the Ministry of Public Works has since issued orders to acquire those lands compulsorily to enable EEPGL to put in the pipeline. However, Ms. Deane-Hughes and Ms. Radzik opined that these orders are also illegal.
The letter to the EPA states, “Please note that as a general matter of law, ministers may not use their statutory powers to facilitate illegality. The Acquisition of Lands for Public Purposes Act empowers the subject minister to acquire lands for public purposes. It is not (and cannot be) a public purpose to acquire private land in order to facilitate a breach of law or circumvent legal requirements such as the regulations. The orders made by the Minister under the Acquisition Lands for Public Purposes Act to acquire private land for the pipeline route are therefore ultra vires and unlawful.”
It continues, “Those orders (including Orders 3, 4, 5, 6, and 7 of 4th January 2023 as published in the Official Gazette on 6th January 2023) do not have legal effect and cannot deprive the landowners and leaseholders of their property rights. I am copying this letter to the Hon. Minister of Public Works so that he is immediately apprised of the situation and can take the necessary steps to uphold the rule of law, including rescinding/cancelling the said orders, and restarting the acquisition process on a proper and lawful basis.”
A copy of the letter was also sent yesterday to Bishop Juan A Edghill, Minister of Public Works.
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