Latest update March 25th, 2023 12:37 AM
Mar 02, 2023 News
Kaieteur News – ExxonMobil Guyana on Wednesday wrapped up its final public consultation session on the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) it submitted to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for its fifth offshore development in the Stabroek Block, Uaru.
The process was however marred in controversy, as stakeholders believe the document was inconclusive, since it was not signed by the oil company that is seeking to develop around 220,000 to 275,000 barrels per day.
While the document was submitted without a signature, the EPA accepted it as is, without demanding the company adhere to the best practises to ensure it takes responsibility. This is especially important since an EIA not only identifies potential dangers and risks associated with a project, but also outlines measures that will be taken to mitigate these impacts among others. It was explained that without a signature from the company, the operator can deny responsibility.
To this end, environmentalist Simone Mangal-Joly has called out the EPA for failing to ensure the necessary steps are taken to safeguard the public. In an invited comment, she told Kaieteur News: “by exhibiting an EIA to the public without acknowledging ownership ExxonMobil is not taking responsibility for the information contained in the document. Submitting a formal EIA to the public, without affixing the company’s signature or a title page to acknowledge ownership is a serious breach of transparency and accountability, it undermines the rule of law and democratic governance in Guyana.”
She said this clearly demonstrates a lack of respect for the country’s leaders, a lack of respect for the citizens and it raises doubts about ExxonMobil’s willingness to be transparent and accountable in its actions in assuming responsibility for the environmental impacts of its projects.
According to Mangal-Joly, “The Environmental Protection Agency failed to uphold a basic level of transparency and accountability in the first place when it allowed ExxonMobil to lodge EIAs in public locations and when the agency itself posted a version of the EIA on its website without signatures or any guarantees of ownership by ExxonMobil.”
As a result of the missing signatures, she pointed out that there is nothing demonstrating in writing legal ownership of the document available. She explained, “My concern is that the Environmental Protection Agency is now aiding and abetting the company with this conduct by not rectifying the problem even though it has received complaints about the situation. It is saying to the public that you don’t matter. These very elementary principles of governance that are about accountability, transparency or even the decency and respect and professional practise of submitting a document with a sense of ownership of that document even that is something that you the public of Guyana do not deserve and that is very troubling.”
Mangal-Joly had alerted the Executive Director of the EPA, Kemraj Parsram in a letter dated February 18, 2023 that the EIA it received from Exxon was not certified and urged that the ongoing 60-days review period be restarted as result of the missing signature.
She did not receive a response to her concern but a mere acknowledgement to her email.
The environmentalist said, “We have had over two years of very serious issues with the Environmental Protection Agency with its conduct, with its leadership and I think that where we’re at is we have now a long body of evidence that shows a lack of commitment to basic principles of rule of law and democratic governance.”
They are being paid while we are being played…your pain is their gain!
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