Both the Government of Belize and the Opposition have supported the legislation with puts a ban on offshore drilling in Belize and Environmental NGOs and the people of Belize in general can celebrated this grandiose act. Below is a press release on the Offshore Oil Moratorium Passes with Rare Bi-partisan and Unanimous Support issued by Ocean Belize.
PEOPLE POWER FUELS PROTECTION FOR BELIZE BARRIER REEF
The members of the Belize Coalition to Save Our Natural Heritage congratulates all members of the National Assembly and the Senate on this historic and rare show of unanimous support. The Petroleum Operations (Maritime Zone Moratorium) Bill 2017 is the culmination of a seven-year movement by tens of thousands of Belizeans to ensure that Belize’s world renowned marine assets and wealth are protected from the inherent threats of offshore oil.
As has been highlighted in both the lower and upper House, as it is currently worded, the legislation does not require public consultations should a future parliament wish to lift the moratorium. However, the Belize Coalition is comforted by the fact that the Rt. Hon. Prime Minister, the Leader of the Opposition, area representatives and Senators have all acknowledged and highlighted that this progress is evidence of people power; a significant show of grassroots democracy. The enduring participation of the Belizean people on this issue has never wavered.
The Coalition hastens to underscore that the legislation also includes a clause for the Minister of Petroleum to enter into compensation agreements. During today’s Senate debate the Attorney General confirmed what the public records show: no offshore oil licenses exist. It is therefore unclear why a clause for compensation is necessary.
The Belize Coalition to Save Our Natural Heritage takes this opportunity to thank the tens of thousands of Belizeans for their trust and unwavering support. We also want to thank the media for the role they have played in keeping people informed on this issue of national importance; an informed electorate is an empowered electorate. This moratorium is truly “The People’s Law”. The Bill will now go to the Governor General for his assent and signing of the commencement order.
The members of the Coalition also reiterate their commitment to continued vigilance on this national issue to ensure that if any future parliament is minded to lift the moratorium, that the Belizean people will be included in the decision making process.