Sunday, June 26, 2022

Fair, robust system being developed for selecting EIA consultants – EPA

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The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) was keen to note on Monday that it is in the process of developing a fair and robust system for compiling a list of approved persons with appropriate qualifications and experience to conduct Environmental Impact Assessments (EIAs) for the oil sector, among other industries.

In the interim, the EPA explained that it approves consultants on a case-by-case basis, which is informed by their respective qualifications and experience. The agency said this is similar to what was done for the US$10 billion Yellowtail Project.

The regulatory body said that it is not required to screen proposed consultant(s) with assistance from international environmental groups before approving them on a case-by-case basis. It said compilation of the list as mentioned in Section 3 (a) of the EPA Act is a separate function, and not directly material to case-by-case approval.

“Many of the consultants approved are members of international Professional Environmental Impact Assessment Associations, which lends credibility regarding their qualifications and experience to conduct EIAs.” Further, the EPA pointed out that the team of approved consultants in the case of the EIA for the Yellowtail Project, covered several areas of expertise and were both international and local consultants with requisite qualifications and experience.

In light of the foregoing explanation, the EPA cautioned concerned Guyanese to be mindful of making misguided public statements on the work of the agency in this regard since they spare no effort in ensuring the interest of the citizenry is protected.

The EPA’s statements come in wake of recently published commentary to the effect that it failed to follow the procedures under the Environmental Protection Act for shortlisting eligible consultants to conduct EIAs. This was noted specifically as it relates to the Yellowtail EIA. It was noted that Section 3 (a) of the Environmental Protection Act requires the EPA to compile and amend from time to time with the assistance of internationally recognised environmental groups a list of approved persons who have the qualifications and experience to carry out environmental impact assessments. Civil society critics have argued that the EPA did not comply with the law on screening Environmental Resources Management (ERM), the consultancy group used for the Yellowtail EIA.

The EPA maintains however it is not required to screen proposed consultant(s) with assistance from international environmental groups before approving them on a case-by-case basis.

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