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—Patterson says as he cites reversal of “zero flaring mandate” instituted by APNU+AFC
Opposition Member of Parliament, David Patterson railed against the People’s Progressive Party/Civic (PPP/C) Government for giving U.S oil giant – ExxonMobil the ‘license’ to flare at will when it “callously” reversed the “zero flaring mandate” instituted by the A Partnership For National Unity + Alliance For Change (APNU+AFC) Administration.
In doing so, Government has chosen money over the environment, Patterson told the National Assembly on Thursday as the Debate on the $552.9B Budget continues.
“… with this reversal, the PPPC now gives Exxon the license to flare any amount if they pay a fee of $45 USD per Tonne of carbon dioxide flared – the PPPC’s declaration that the fine of $45 USD per tonne of carbon dioxide equivalent emitted, is an improvement, is nothing but a laughable sham giving Exxon the license to flare. Money talks, the environment suffers!” the APNU+AFC MP told the House.
Flaring is the disposal of waste gas produced with the oil into the atmosphere. The gas is known to contain over 250 identified toxins including benzene; metals such as mercury and arsenic; sour gas with Hydrogen Sulfide, Sulfur Dioxide, and Nitrogen oxides, which form acids in the atmosphere and fall back as acid rain; and Carbon dioxide and methane, two of the main contributors to greenhouse gases and climate change.
Referencing to Clause 3.6 of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Permit, which expressly prohibits flaring, with exceptions being made for flaring only during startup of the FPSO, emergencies, or periods of maintenance, Patterson said the Law is very clear. He explained that the unexpected failure of Exxon’s equipment at beginning of operations, resulted in the APNU+AFC Government taking necessary actions to stop such flaring, including severely reducing oil production, and revisions of the EPA Permits to ensure compliance with the law.
The Opposition MP told the House that to date, Exxon is still is still to address the issue of flaring – some two years after it commenced operations. “The government has total disregard for the nation’s health, safety and the environment, which was made clear when government ministers continued parroting Exxon’s position that Guyana is a carbon sink, so it has the capacity to take in more pollutants – this coming from a government that is also pushing a green agenda,” Patterson told the House.
He said instead of embracing the Coalition’s “zero flaring mandate,” the PPP/C Administration opened the door for flaring to continue even on a larger scale.
“Mr. Speaker, the foregoing also highlights that the current PPPC Administration is more interested in prioritizing monetary gains over protection of the environment, safety and health, which is an unnecessary and dangerous choice, since today’s technology makes it commonplace for both environmental protection and monetary gains to be achieved at the same time; especially considering that Exxon is comfortably and willingly achieving these targets in other countries such as the United States.”
The privately-owned Kaieteur News has reported recently that gas flaring contributes to climate change, which has serious implications for the human security and wellbeing globally. In fact, the Department of Mechanical Engineering at the University of Ibadan, Ibadan, Nigeria, outlined in one of its studies, that gas flaring is actually a major source of greenhouse gases, which accelerates global warming.
It was noted, that flaring releases Carbon Dioxide and Methane, the two major greenhouse gases. Of these two, Methane is actually more harmful than Carbon Dioxide. It is also more prevalent in flares that burn at lower efficiency.
Of the greenhouse gases researched so far, Kaieteur News reported that the global warming potential of a kilogramme of Methane is estimated to be 21 times that of a kilogramme of Carbon Dioxide when the effects are considered.
The University of Ibadan study also noted that flaring contributes to local and regional environmental problems, such as acid rain with attendant impact on agriculture, forests and other physical infrastructure. The acid rain results in environmental degradation, which includes soil and water contamination and roof erosion. Furthermore, there have been over 250 identified toxins released from flaring, including carcinogens such as benzopyrene, benzene, carbon disulphide (CS2), carbonyl sulphide (COS) and toluene; metals such as mercury, arsenic and chromium; sour gas with Hydrogen Sulfide (H2S) and Sulfur Dioxide (SO2); Nitrogen oxides (NOx); Carbon dioxide (CO2); and methane (CH4) which contribute to the greenhouse gases.