The Bahamas, where unspoiled beauty soon will be spoiled

ShutterstockThe Bahamas, where unspoiled beauty soon will be spoiled.

Catch ya later, unspoiled beaches of Bahamian paradise. It’s been real.

Offshore oil drilling will soon be allowed in the heavenly West Indies archipelago of the Bahamas, which is made up of thousands of islands and cays off the Floridian coast. Initially, the drilling will be exploratory only — an experiment that will punch a bunch of holes in the ocean floor to see what goop lies beneath.

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The Bahamas environment minister said the option of allowing large-scale commercial oil drilling would be put to the nation’s voters after results of the exploratory drills are known, perhaps in 2015.

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The government had previously said that even exploratory drilling would require the support of the voters before it could begin. With this move to allow exploratory drills, the government is being accused by The Tribune, a Bahamian newspaper, of breaking promises:

According to a statement released by Environment Minister Kenred Dorsett, the government has determined that “we need to find out first, through exploration drilling, whether we do indeed have oil in commercially viable quantities.”

This is in direct contrast to his position less than four months ago, when Mr Dorsett assured this newspaper that no form of drilling would take place ahead of the referendum, planned for sometime before July this year.

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The drilling plan is controversial, for obvious reasons. From the Associated Press:

Offshore drilling is sensitive in the Bahamas, where many fear a spill could devastate the fishing and tourism industries. The previous Bahamian government had delayed issuing exploration permits. Prime Minister Perry Christie, who was voted back into office in May, has said he supported exploration.

Dorsett said the government would seek new regulations to protect the environment and cannot ignore the potential economic benefits of oil for a country that now imports fuel. “The discovery of oil in the Bahamas would almost certainly prove to be economically transformative for our nation for many generations to come,” he said in a statement.

Transformative, you say?