|By Daniel Keeney||
|July 8, 2014 03:40 PM EDT||
The Governor of Bayelsa State, the Honorable Henry Seriake Dickson, is seeking the support of the international community to hold multi-national oil and gas companies operating in the Niger Delta, including Royal-Dutch Shell and Agip, responsible for the environmental devastation they have caused. Reflecting on World Environment Day 2014, Governor Dickson detailed a litany of environmental offenses that have threatened local economies, harmed public health, impeded development, and strained the social fabric of communities.
Governor Dickson equated the damage to Bayelsa State’s environment to “environmental terrorism.” BP's Deepwater Horizon spill caused an international uproar, but that catastrophe is dwarfed by the amount of oil spilled in the Niger Delta annually. And the devastation is constant and ongoing – data from Nigeria's National Oil Spill Detection and Response Agency (NOSDRA), which indicates more than 804 oil spills were recorded in a two-year period, making an average of over one spill every day.
“Nowhere is there a greater need to raise our voices, do our part, and hold all implicated actors to acceptable standards of environmental responsibility than in Bayelsa State,” said Dickson. “We seek the strong support of the Federal Government of Nigeria and the international community, especially the U.K. and U.S. governments, the United Nations system and the justice institutions of the European Union, in holding these corporations and their parent companies to account for their environmental violations.”
Bayelsa State is located at the southernmost tip of Nigeria, forming the core of the Niger Delta’s network of small islands. It is one of the three largest wetlands in the world and features a diverse and fragile ecosystem. Its treasures include rain and mangrove forests as well as rare and exotic species. Governor Dickson says all this is under attack by companies headquartered in advanced economies such as the U.K., U.S., Netherlands and Italy. They comply with the high environmental standards in their own countries, but exploit weaknesses in Nigeria’s regulatory oversight.
“It is time for the extractive industry to plough back reasonable portions of their humongous profits into protecting the environments which they have so perforated in the course of their operations,” Dickson said. “Bayelsa State, as a responsible member of the global community, is committed to restoring our environment and preserving our treasure trove of biodiversity.”
Dickson detailed a number of initiatives the Bayelsa State Government is pursuing, including:
- Implementing a strategy known as Collective Action to Restore the Environment (CARE) as a major plank of this Administration's Environmental Restoration and Governance Agenda.
- Collaborating with others in the Hydrocarbon Pollution Restoration Project (HYPREP) fostered by the Federal Ministry of Petroleum Resources in the wake of the United Nations Environment Program’s Environmental Assessment of Ogoni Land.
- Building a strong partnership with NOSDRA and relevant global institutions on oil pollution control, remediation/restoration of polluted sites, and disaster risk reduction in relation to pipeline vandalization and illegal/unregulated refining of crude oil.
- Commissioning studies toward the development of a flood management plan, which will form part of an eventual integrated coastal management plan.
To effectively drive this agenda and ensure enforcement, Governor Dickson is making the institutional strengthening of the Bayelsa State Ministry of Environment a top priority. Additionally, all major government projects will be subjected to environmental impact assessment.
Download the complete text of Governor Dickson’s commentary: http://www.dpkpr.com/files/535/download/.
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