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Apr 30, 2014

Belize High School wins Coalition’s oil debate

Oil drilling is a hot button issue. As it stands, SATIIM is fighting tooth and nail against US Capital Energy for drilling operations within the Sarstoon Temash National Park and Maya communal lands. So the debate is raging or the merits or disadvantages of oil exploration. The Belize Coalition to Save our Natural Heritage enlisted high schools to a series of oil debates; they concluded today on the issue of whether or not Belize’s offshore and protected areas should be legally declared as off-limits to oil and gas exploration.  Duane Moody has a report on the convincing arguments between two contenders.

 

Duane Moody, Reporting

The first national secondary school oil debate competition concluded today at the Bliss Center for the Performing Arts. Organized by the Belize Coalition to Save Our Natural Heritage, the competition is to spark discussions on oil exploration and research in the jewel. It started back in November of 2013.

 

Judy Waight

Judy Waight, Education Outreach Officer, Belize Coalition to Save our Natural Heritage

“We gave them a month to prepare, to do research on either side of the debate. Today, by the flipping of the coin, they chose what side they were debating. So basically they had to do research on both sides. We want to have this discussion on oil exploration. We thought starting at the high school level is a great opportunity and we will be touching in various issues that have been current. We talk about offshore and protected area; we talk about tourism; we talk about oil refinery. So it’s a lot of issues that we’ve been hearing constantly on the news. So it gives them that opportunity to do research and to learn more about what’s happening.”

 

The resolution debated was whether or not “Belize’s offshore and protected areas should be legally declared as off-limits to oil and gas exploration.” And for the finals today, it was between Belize High School of Belize City and Julian Cho High School of the south. After over forty minutes of debate, the five-member team from Belize High School came out on top; they were in favor of oil exploration.

 

Jordanny Williams

Jordanny Williams, Belize High School

“We were for them exploring in these protected areas and what we found out is that even countries around us are already venturing out into these different fields of oil exploration. And neighbors as close as Honduras for example also venturing into this. We also found out how country in the Caribbean such as Trinidad have benefitted from finding different oil reserves and how their economy has boosted as well. It was just how we defended out facts and putting them out everything in order so that we could get them all through and timing and different things like that.”

 

A’ja Foster, Julian Cho High School

A’ja Foster

“We’ve learned so much about oil drilling, oil explorations; dates in different oil excavations and dates in a whole bunch of things that on a common basis we didn’t know. So it helped us and enlightened us a lot. It’s a good feeling. We feel just honored that we can reach so far and a lot of people thought that a little school from Toledo wouldn’t be able to make it. So, we feel honored to have even made it this far. But we really think that next year we have to do much harder because as you can see the winner takes all.”

 

Judges for the debate today were Renee Wentz, Kim Aikman and Doctor Gordon Kirkwood. Duane Moody for News Five.

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