Activists fail in Court bid to stop Gas-to-Energy project

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The court orders sought by activists Vanda Radzik and Elizabeth Deane-Hughes to quash the Gas-to-Energy Environmental Permit granted to ExxonMobil Guyana Limited (EMGL) were refused by Justice Priya Sewnarine-Beharry.

The lawsuit concerns the issuance of the Permit by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to EMGL for the installation of the pipeline. They contend that Exxon does not have the requisite permission to conduct activities on the lands designated for the gas pipeline route to the power plant. 

The lands, around some 75 acres, were compulsorily acquired by the Guyana government earlier in the year, with over GY$400 million doled out in compensation to pave the way for the pipeline’s construction. The orders sought by the activists would have essentially halted the multi-billion dollar project. 

From Africa to South America, leaders say environmental lobby hindering development | OilNOW 

Justice Beharry in her judgment on Oct. 5 relayed that there was no evidence of the applicants being “personally aggrieved” by the EPA’s decision. 

“The Fixed Date Application took issue with compliance with the law and sought, in essence, vindication through various orders and declarations the effect of which would bring the project works to a halt,” she added. 

Justice Beharry said too that the applicants did not “cogently” relate what real public wrong occurred to them or the wider Guyanese populace that justifies the quashing of the Permit. 

“Cognisance must be paid to the fact that significant fiscal expenditure has been injected into the Gas to Energy pipeline. A quashing order would disproportionately disadvantage Esso Guyana and the State by halting significant project development already underway…. It is upon a delicate balancing exercise, that I am of the view that no good to the public can be done by granting the reliefs sought in the Amended Fixed Date Application,” she told the court. 

In response to the allegations raised, the EPA, the Attorney General of Guyana, Anil Nandlall SC, and EMGL cited cogent evidence of the documentation provided to establish EMGL’s legal right to conduct the activity. 

It was noted that further documentation should have been submitted but the Court stated that “Judicial review is not concerned with vindication in the public sphere… It was never intended to be a sword for satisfaction but rather a shield against excesses of public functionaries”.

The EPA was represented by Frances Carryl, Shareefah Parks, and Niomi Alsopp who were led by Sanjeev Datadin. 

The activists were represented by Melinda Janki, Abiola Wong-Innis and Joel Ross. Janki was part of another team of lawyers that lost another case brought against the EPA for the Liza 1 Environmental Permit on Oct. 4. Deanes and Radzik alongside Janki have been at the forefront of litigations seen as blatant attempts to stymie oil development in Guyana. 

EMGL is responsible for the installation of the pipeline. The Guyana government will handle the integrated facility at Wales, on the West Bank of Demerara. 

The project is estimated to cost some US$1.7-1.8 billion to develop. 

Read more about the project here: All you need to know about Guyana’s Gas-to-Energy project (Updated) | OilNOW

Read the full judgment here: 

Radzik-vs-EPA-vs-EMGL-

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