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Sep 27, 2006

Judge rules against oil exploration in park w/o E.I.A.

Story PictureSouthern environmental activists scored what they are calling a victory in the Supreme Court today after Justice Samuel Awich ordered all oil exploration activities in the Sarstoon Temash National Park to stop until an Environmental Impact Assessment has been concluded and approved. In presenting his decision, Awich declared that while three of the four grounds submitted by SATIIM’s attorneys were either premature or incorrect, the organisation’s point that the National Parks Act requires an E.I.A. for seismic testing, is valid. As a result this afternoon Awich ordered that U.S. Capital Energy Limited must cease and desist from all activity in the park until the study is completed. Following today’s verdict, SATIIM’s attorney Dean Barrow told the press that he was happy with the result.

Dean Barrow, SATIIM Attorney
?We won so we have to be satisfied. I would have preferred if we had succeeded on some of the other grounds as well but in the end it?s the results that matters and we won, the permission has been quashed. They clearly have to start the process all over and we can?t prejudge how it is the Department of the Environment will find and we can?t prejudge what it is that the Forest Department will do if after the Environmental Impact Assessment is concluded a new application for permission is made. I assume it will be. But for sure, if when that stage is reached and a new decision is made and it is one that is not favourable to SATIIM then there is a likelihood that we start all over again. But clearly we will advise SATIIM you take it one step at a time you have won, enjoy the victory, and let us see what happens down the road.?

Janelle Chanona, Reporting
?Down the road, among that I?m sure you?re considering the fact that three of the grounds did get quashed what would be the new grounds for that seeing that the situation wouldn?t have changed on the ground??

Dean Barrow
?Well it would depend on what the actual outcome of any new process is. It is a little difficult to speculate, but please be assured that lawyers are endlessly inventive and depending on the particular set of facts, additional grounds can always be found.?

Janelle Chanona
?20/20 Hindsight Mr. King, looking back would you have done anything differently seeing the outcome of today?s proceeding??

Alistair King, U.S. Capital Energy Limited
?Well I would have gotten the D.O.E. to be a little more specific in their terms of the E.I.A. being required or not required. But otherwise we are going to do the E.I.A. and go ahead.?

Janelle Chanona
?Are you feeling, what are you feeling after that??

Alistair King
?I just feel like we wasted a lot of time. You know we could have been half way through this job already. There won?t have been this division of the people, so you know it?s been a nuisance factor right. But let?s hope that everybody can get back together and work together now.?

Tonight we understand that prior to today’s proceedings, U.S. Capital Energy had already applied to the Department of Environment to conduct an Environmental Impact Assessment within the Sarstoon Temash National Park. Permission has been granted and that process is currently underway.

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