Mike’s Bogota Blog: Marching Against Lizama

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Mike’s Bogota Blog: Marching Against Lizama

‘The Lizama Petroleum Disaster’. Lizama is the name of the well which poured out oil last month.

Young people marched down Carrera Septima this afternoon protesting the oil well which spilled oil for most of March in Santander Department. 

As a Colombian I demand the resignations of those
responsible for the ecocide: The Minister of the Environment and
 the director of the ANLA.
‘ And what about the
Ecopetrol executives’ resignations?

(The ANLA issues licenses for companies which want to
carry out projects generating environmental impacts.)

According to Controlaría reports, the state oil company had left many abandoned wells unsealed and had not properly updated its contingency plans. I’d be willing to bet that out there in the swamps and jungles a lot of oil wells are leaking away with nobody around to notice.

Interestingly, in Bogotá the oil well scandal over the oil well leak happened to coincide with rare attention to the chronic problem of air pollution as authorities announced a ‘yellow alert’ about pollution levels in late March. The alert generated a number of news articles and editorials, and one academic even informed us that the pollution comes from diesel vehicles. 

It’s almost makes one wonder whether Colombia should kick its dependence on a fuel which damages the environment and human health from the moment it’s sucked out of the ground to when it is burned and released into the atmosphere. Perhaps Colombia could no longer make fossil fuel exports the foundation of its economy, and stop subsidizing driving. But real changes are too much to ask, of course. And the real problem is not how they extract oil, but whether they do so at all.

Still, the industry can rest comfortably: the moment will pass, and the public’s attention will move on to something more important, such as gasoline prices, football games and beauty pageants.

Unfortunately, despite Colombian leaders’ expressions of concern about climate change, the nation continues to make fossil fuel exportation the ‘locomotive’ of its economy and celebrates cars sales as an unqualified good. The only prominent voice calling for change – leftist presidential candidate Gustavo Petro, who wants to change oil for avocadoes – is completely unrealistic and would generate huge opposition from citizens and industry.

The land belongs to the campesino; Not to the multinational.

A bit strangely, many of the protests denounced fracking – even tho the leaking well did not employ fracking. But fracking makes a good all-purpose demon.

Environmental authorities were criticized for slowness in responding to the spill. So far, no heads have rolled. But it sure seems as tho people in power should pay for the failure to put into place environmental safeguards, which is the TRUE scandal here.

‘No to cruelty, no to fracking and yes to renewable energy.’  

‘The Lizama Petroleum Disaster’. Lizama is the name of the well which poured out oil.

Popular sovereignety on environmental issues.‘ 

 More and more municipalities are holding local referendums, and voting overwhelmingly against permitting oil exploration and mining. The votes are controversial, with some national politicians declaring that they have no legal weight.

No to fracking.’ But the leaking well had nothing to do with fracking.

The often uninformed and emotional opposition to fracking (like the opposition to nuclear power genetically modified organisms) threatens to make conventional oil extraction appear environmentally sound.

Don’t take out our life. No fracking in Colombia.

 By Mike Ceaser, of Bogotá Bike Tours

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