Andy Sharpless is the CEO of Oceana.
I have a dramatic update for you on our campaign to stop offshore drilling in Belize.
As I reported to you several weeks ago, the government shockingly rejected 8,000 of the 20,000 signatures we collected against offshore drilling, citing poor penmanship as a primary reason.
The 20,000 signatures we collected should have been more than plenty to trigger a national referendum on offshore drilling, but since the government refused to comply, we held our own referendum last week – a people’s referendum.
And the results were astounding.
Nearly 30,000 registered Belizeans – that’s almost 20% of the country’s voting population – cast a ballot on the issue of offshore drilling. The results? 96% to 4% voted against offshore drilling. We think this is irrefutable evidence that the Belizean government needs to act responsibly, and either end plans to allow drilling in its reef, or allow a public referendum to determine the national policy.
Oceana is the leading voice in Belize against offshore drilling. Belize is home to the magnificent Belize Barrier Reef, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, which we simply cannot sacrifice for oil.
I’ll keep you posted as this important story continues to unfold.
Oceana made great strides last week in our fight to stop offshore oil drilling in Belize’s crystal blue waters.
First, last week the Belizean government decided not to re-issue the offshore drilling concessions previously held by the Taiwan-based Overseas Petroleum Investment Corp. (OPIC), an offshore oil exploration company. In October, OPIC relinquished its permits to approximately 1.14 million acres off Belize’s coast.
And second, in response to a letter from Vice President of Oceana Belize, Audrey Matura-Shepherd, Prime Minister Dean Barrow agreed to put the matter of offshore drilling to a public referendum.