Waterkeeper Alliance and Leading Bahamian Environmental Groups Continue Extended Public Consultations on Disney’s Environmental Impact Assessment for their Controversial Project at Lighthouse Point - Waterkeeper

Waterkeeper Alliance and Leading Bahamian Environmental Groups Continue Extended Public Consultations on Disney’s Environmental Impact Assessment for their Controversial Project at Lighthouse Point

By: Waterkeeper Alliance

lighthouse point bahamas
Photo by Shane Gross

Waterkeeper Alliance joins with leading Bahamian environmental groups of the Stop Disney – Last Chance for Lighthouse Point Campaign in their announcement of a second extended public consultation on Earth Day, April 22 at 6:00 PM EDT (Zoom link, Meeting ID: 869 3813 6074), to discuss Disney’s Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) for Lighthouse Point. 

Disney is still rushing ahead with their plans for a $400 million cruise port at Lighthouse Point on the island of Eleuthera in The Bahamas. The development would be located right at the heart of a proposed Marine Protected Area. Leading Bahamian environmental groups have organized extended public consultations to supplement the Government’s limited opportunities for expert and public input on Disney’s EIA for the project. 

Casuarina Mckinney-Lambert, Executive Director, BREEF, stated, “Irrespective of your view of Disney’s current proposal, we can agree that Disney and the Government need to conduct a science-based EIA with meaningful public participation as a basis for a rational decision about such a major project. Our goal with these extended public consultations is to further the discussions of the key areas where this EIA needs to be improved so that Disney, the Government, and the public can make a sound judgment about the future of Lighthouse Point.”

The meeting on April 22 will focus on the inadequacy of Disney’s EIA with regard to its consideration of oceans and climate change. The campaign’s first extended public consultation on April 15, which attracted more than 100 participants, addressed the inadequacy of Disney’s EIA with regard to economics, sustainability, and alternatives. Independent experts shared their findings that Disney’s EIA fails to provide proof of the purported economic benefits of the project and lacks meaningful consideration of alternatives. 

Dinah Bear, former General Counsel at the U.S. President’s Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ), said at the meeting: “This document suggests a fundamental misunderstanding of the purpose of EIA. The purpose is not to document the impacts of a decision that has already been made and suggest a bit of mitigation. Rather, the highest purpose of EIA is to evaluate the environmental and related social and economic impacts of a proposed action and alternatives to inform decision-making. As it stands, the document does not conform to international and U.S. standards for EIA.”

“The high tourism density proposed by Disney conflicts with their corporate sustainability goals and is a recipe for degradation and over-tourism at Lighthouse Point. Without significant modifications, it is likely that the activities outlined in the draft EIA could trigger intense ecological pressure with myriad negative impacts,” said Gregory Miller, Executive Director of the Center for Responsible Travel. 

Dr. Miller also emphasized that Disney failed to adequately consider alternative developments in their EIA, which is standard practice for environmental reviews. He reiterated that Disney continues to point to the higher-density, greater-impact condo and marina proposal from 2008 as the only alternative to their cruise port, but this plan was abandoned more than a decade ago. Disney’s EIA ignores the land-based, lower-impact, sustainable alternative that has been proposed by local groups. 

Marc Yaggi, Executive Director, Waterkeeper Alliance, added: “Disney has stated that their ‘intent is to approach the Lighthouse Point project with the same level of environmental stewardship and sensitivity [it] bring[s] to other Disney projects around the world.’ Yet multiple independent international experts at last week’s meeting came to the same conclusion: the current EIA would not be considered acceptable in Disney’s own home country.” 

The April 15 meeting clearly showed that there are serious concerns about the inadequacy of Disney’s EIA. Independent experts and members of the public identified numerous deficiencies in the document. The Campaign welcomes members of the public, as well as Disney and the Government, to join them on Earth Day and continue this important discussion. The meeting will take place on April 22 at 6:00 PM EDT (Zoom link, Meeting ID: 869 3813 6074) and will focus on oceans and climate change.

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