Profit and the environment
While known for her strong, almost militant views on the environment, Gina Lopez was not totally averse to businesses such as mining whose industry leaders were credited for congressional rejection of her confirmation as environment secretary.
During a joint Commission on Appointments (CA) hearing, Lopez mentioned something about some companies using advanced magnets to extract minerals from the bowels of the earth without causing any soil erosion or long term ill effects and damage.
Such technology, however, isn’t available to local mining firms who not only don’t have access to it and employ equipment that barely meets standards if at all.
To keep costs down while ensuring maximum profit, these companies still prefer to use invasive methods to extract minerals needed by foreign manufacturing firms to produce their products that eventually make their way to local shores.
The untold damage to the environment coupled with the hundreds of millions to billions of pesos earned in profit by the mining firms had become a long running, teeth gnashing tragic tale that may be repeated with plans by a company to conduct offshore drilling in the Visayas and Camotes seas.
Though they may have failed to stop commercial operation of the Alegria oil field, environment groups aren’t about to give up on challenging the service contract awarded by the Department of Energy to Phinma Petroleum and Geothermal Inc.
The area covered by the contract pegged at over half a million hectares is enough to give anyone with a middling concern for the environment some serious pause for concern.
But based on interviews, some local officials are giving the DOE and the proponent the benefit of the doubt concerning the project’s safety and their capability to implement it without risking damage to the marine environment.
Again as with mining firms, the question of whether the contracted company has the technology, equipment and expertise to conduct offshore oil drilling in the seas should be answered by both the DOE before stakeholders who include the fisherfolk that depend on the seas in the Visayas for their livelihood.
While a dialogue may be conducted, a thorough impact assessment of the project should be done in coordination with the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR).
The mayors of the 10 towns of northern Cebu that will be affected by the project also owe it to their constituents to look beyond the lure and promise of profits and consider the long term health and sustainability of their marine environment.
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