Groups Plan Additional “Public Consultations” Starting April 15th
Waterkeeper Alliance joins with leading Bahamian environmentalists in criticizing Disney for attempting to ram through approval of its Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) for its controversial $250-400 million proposed cruise ship port at Lighthouse Point, the southernmost tip of the Island of Eleuthera in The Bahamas.
The groups were deeply disappointed by the Bahamian Department of Environmental Protection and Planning’s April 8th Zoom “public consultation” meeting, which attracted more than 350 people. “The Government’s one and only ‘public consultation’ on April 8th was a Disney show,” said Sam Duncombe, executive director of reEarth in Nassau and one of the Alliance’s partners in the Stop Disney: Last Chance for Lighthouse Point campaign. “After a long Disney PowerPoint and introduction of its experts, the rest of the public on the call were given one minute each to ask questions to Disney’s experts with no follow-up. There was no discussion to enable the public to sort out what is ‘real’ and what is ‘fantasy’ in the story Disney is telling with its EIA.”
Marc Yaggi, executive director of Waterkeeper Alliance said: “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 Disney’s EIA would be totally unacceptable in the United States, particularly on a project of this scale.”
Yaggi added: “We once again offer to Disney our cooperation in assuring that the EIA and the review process are consistent with its commitment and what we expect Disney to do at home.”
In response to the abbreviated April 8th consultation, Waterkeeper Alliance will join its campaign partners in holding the first of three additional “public consultations” via Zoom before the end of the official public comment period on May 6th. The meetings, which will include leading independent experts, will supplement the governmental process and give opportunities for more meaningful engagement from people in The Bahamas and around the world; more than 440,000 people have signed the campaign’s Change.org petition. The groups welcome the participation of Disney and the Bahamian Government, and hope that they will join to discuss the key issues about the EIA, many of which were raised, but not discussed at the first consultation.
The first Zoom gathering is scheduled for next Thursday, April 15th at 6:00 PM EDT (link: https://us02web.zoom.us/j/85161689824, Meeting ID: 851 6168 9824) and will focus on the overall inadequacy of the EIA and its consideration of economics, sustainability, and alternatives. Independent experts Dr. Greg Miller, the executive director of the Center for Responsible Travel (CREST), and Dinah Bear, former Chief Counsel at U.S. President’s Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ), will lead the hour-long discussion.
“Our initial review has found that Disney’s EIA contains major gaps and oversights. Disney needs to supplement their EIA with additional studies, data, and consultations before any decision on the future of Lighthouse Point,” said Rashema Ingraham, executive directorWaterkeepers Bahamas.
Joseph Darville, Chairman of Save the Bays, another campaign partner, added: “Disney needs to address all of the environmental, economic, and social implications of their proposed port, and implement the same high standards as it proposes to do so to meet its new 2030 sustainability goals. This is the only way Disney can show the Bahamians that they really want to work with us to ‘build back better’ after Dorian and COVID-19.”
Casuarina Mckinney-Lambert, executive director of BREEF, another campaign partner added: “On April 8th, we saw just the very beginning of a much-needed open in-depth conversation about Disney’s current plans for a unique natural site treasured by Bahamians and people worldwide.”