Support Village Voice News With a Donation of Your Choice.
The Transparency Institute Guyana Inc (TIGI) has questioned government’s decision to send Dr Vincent Adams, the head of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) on leave before he decides he can.
In a statement on Friday TIGI said: ”We see no reason for removing our best qualified person for reasons other than misbehaviour, especially when ExxonMobil wants to release reservoir water into the ocean instead of injecting it into the wells. Unless there are secret considerations, it is not as complex as they make out. The reservoir water does not have to be treated any more than already provided for under the present environmental permit. It is also for Dr Adams to decide on the Payara approval permit. We have no confidence the EPA can make those decisions without him. This agency needs more and qualified staff to execute their mandate according to law. We would be more confident if Dr Adams is there also to interview the candidates. The country must be prepared to accept any costs to stop this and any flaring. Those who are enjoying the prospects of oil wealth should have been prepared to pay for the consequences.”
Dr. Adams was on Thursday sent on four months leave and sources believe he might not be retained by the new PPP/C administration. “I received a letter to proceed on vacation since I had 128 days outstanding. The records in Human Resource states I am entitled to 77 days,” Adams is quoted as saying in the Stabroek News. Adams was recruited by the APNUAFC administration in 2018. He is an executive member of the Alliance For Change. An Energy Expert and Scientist, Adams was appointed Executive Director of the EPA on October 1, 2018. Dr. Adams possesses over 40 years of experience in both the public and private sectors in environmental, petroleum, and geological engineering, and geohydrology, as well as Executive leadership and management. He has a PhD in Environmental Engineering, is a PhD Candidate in Petroleum and Geological Engineering, MS in Petroleum and Geological Engineering, MS in Geohydrology, BS in Civil/Public Health Engineering, and Diploma in Executive Leadership and Management from MIT Sloan School of Business.
Dr. Adams acquired 30 years of service in the US Department of Energy (DOE) Environmental Management including 10 years as a member of the Senior Executive Service Corps (highest ranking civilians equivalent to the military Generals running the daily operations of Government) heading Offices in both Headquarters and the Field. He previously worked as one of 11 engineers who worked with the then Guyana Water Authority as a Well Drilling Engineer from 1972-1977, where he managed and supervised drilling crews and drilling activities, designing and drilling wells up to 2,400 ft. deep. His duties include reviewing, preparing and recommending to the Board of Directors new or modified environmental policies, laws, regulations and standards for the fulfilment of EPA’s statutory mandate, among others.
Adams in recent times have locked horns with oil giant ExxonMobil over fluid spills and the agency had fined the company $100,000 (US$500) for each incident, bringing the total payment to $600,000 (US$3,000). Exxon had opposed and was seeking legal redress. Reacting to move to send Adams on leave environmentalist, Annette Arjoon wrote on her facebook page: “Truly saddened to learn of this as Dr Adams was doing the best he could in the absence of being given adequate resources to hire the requisite levels of expertise at the EPA. Hopefully his three decades of expertise in the US Department of Energy can be put to use after his leave is over.”
Editor-in-Chief of Stabroek News, Anand Persaud also wrote: “Sending of the EPA head on leave is a bad, bad sign…A cave-in to private sector interests.”
Vice President Bharrat Jagdeo in a recent interview on Kaieteur Radio said that while he regarded the role of the EPA in safeguarding and protecting the interest this country, that agency must do so in a manner that facilitate, rather than curtail investments. He said all the environmental provisions governing the relationship between the State and the oil companies must be properly enshrined in the contracts or development plans. Once that is done, he said that those provisions would have to be enforced while adding that this would mean developing the relevant capability to do so in an effective manner.
According to a OilNow article, the Vice President articulated that the government has already outlined its position that there would be no flaring and that a policy would be implemented in this regard. He said, too, that the PPP/C administration has made it clear that there must be adequate provisions in place to ensure the liabilities for oil spills are dealt with by the companies and nothing is left on the shoulders of the State. The Vice President acknowledged that the EPA’s ability to manage the foregoing has to be enhanced but at the same time, he stressed that the regulatory body cannot become a humbug to investment. He said that this is not just for the oil and gas industry but across all sectors. The Vice President stated, “…We want to strike that balance. We get an enormous number of complaints about projects which have very little impact on the environment, but people have to wait very long for approval, or they have to pay someone to get it.” Dr. Jagdeo added, “So we want the agency to safeguard the country and our welfare but at the same time, be open to economic development.”