Belize’s Supreme Court declared offshore drilling contracts issued by the government of Belize null and void, effectively ending the government’s immediate effort to allow offshore oil drilling in the Mesoamerican Reef, the second largest barrier reef in the world. Oceana has campaigned against offshore drilling in Belize for more than two years.
The Court's decision was in response to a lawsuit brought by Oceana, COLA, and the Belize Coalition to Save Our Natural Heritage. In 2011, after collecting the 20,000+ signatures required to trigger a national referendum that would allow the public to vote on whether or not to allow offshore oil drilling in Belize’s reef, the government disqualified over 8,000 of these signatures effectively on the basis of poor penmanship - stopping the possibility of a vote. Oceana answered by organizing the nation’s first ever “People’s Referendum” in 2012 in which more than 29,000 people from all around the country cast their votes. In this historic vote, 96% voted against offshore exploration and drilling.
For the second time in less than a year, Oceana helped defeat a coal-fired power plant on the coast of Northern Chile. The CAP company announced that it was withdrawing its plans to construct the Cruz Grande thermoelectric power plant. Cruz Grande was slated to be a 300-megawatt thermoelectric power plant in the region of La Higuera in Northern Chile, a few miles from the Choros-Damas and Chañaral island marine reserves, and near the Humboldt Penguin National Reserve, which is home to the world’s largest population of Humboldt penguins. The region also hosts communities of bottlenose dolphins, marine otters and many marine birds and mammals, including blue whales.
In a huge triumph for the U.S. Arctic, Shell announced it would cancel plans to drill exploratory wells offshore in Alaska due to continued uncertainty over whether it would receive federal permits. Shell had hoped to drill exploratory wells in 2010 in the Beaufort and Chukchi Seas, but its plans were put on hold by Interior Secretary Ken Salazar after the disaster in the Gulf of Mexico. Oceana has been instrumental in monitoring the permitting process and holding policymakers accountable for upholding the law.
Offshore Drilling Halted in Eastern Gulf of Mexico, and Atlantic and Pacific Coasts
Interior Secretary Ken Salazar announced that in the new five-year drilling plan, no new offshore drilling would be allowed in the Eastern Gulf of Mexico or off the Atlantic and Pacific coasts. The Eastern Gulf of Mexico will be protected from offshore oil and gas exploration for the next seven years. These areas were being considered for oil and gas development, and the Administration had previously indicated support for exploration in the Atlantic Ocean. The decision follows years of campaign work by Oceana to stop expanded offshore drilling.
Preventing 20,000,000 Tons of Oil from Being Illegally Dumped in the Ocean
A new law was passed by the European Union that imposes criminal sanctions, including heavy fines and even jail terms, for the owners, operators and financiers of boats that illegally dump oily waters and residues into the sea. The new law could prevent as much as 20,000,000 tons of polluting substances from getting into the ocean every year – the single biggest reduction in oil pollution in decades, anywhere in the world.