(Statianews, June 2011)
Selling our souls to NuStar?!?!
Over the past days, I have paid keen attention to the many opinions posted via Statia News pertaining to the expansion of NuStar. Among the many arguments presented two stuck with me: First, that of Ms. J. Berkel. In her piece, Ms. Berkel asked what the specific benefits of this expansion for Statia and its people were. She further stated that she was not convinced by the arguments put forward thus far. Especially since in her opinion, these benefits have been absent over the past 30 or more years that the Oil Terminal has been present on the island.
The second piece that intrigued me was put forth by DP council member Mr. Koos Sneek. In his piece, Mr. Sneek spoke of the economic boost that this expansion would bring. He mentioned for example the case of senior citizens who live on an income of $500 per month who will benefit from this expansion.
After carefully considering all the pros and cons I have the following questions/comments: Whom will the expansion of NuStar benefit most? In my opinion, NuStar and its shareholders. For whatever reasons (at this moment rather unclear to me) the powers that be feel that an expansion is necessary. I am sure they did not just happen upon this decision. One can expect that their plans are based on various surveys, research results and detailed assessments, all geared at producing a plan that is as cost effective as possible. My point then is: Doesn’t Statia deserve the same? Shouldn’t the island be allowed to hire their experts to access what this expansion will cost the island economically, environmentally, socially and psychologically? And shouldn’t these reports be analyzed properly before any decision is made?
Also, I feel Ms. Berkel’s question should be answered: How will this expansion benefit Statia and its people? As far as I can gather from the different articles primarily Mr. Sneek is convinced that the expansion will (indirectly) lead to more opportunities for small business owners, entrepreneurs and such. Though some of Mr. Sneek’s points make sense, I am not sure that his arguments are valid. That is why I challenge Mr. Sneek and any other persons who support these arguments to explain to the people exactly how this expansion will benefit them. How will it better the situation of the senior citizens? How will it provide jobs for young, talented Statians? What concrete steps will NuStar take to boost Statia’s economy? And, specifically how it will help the little man; the average Statian who must provide for his family on a daily basis?
I am also keen on knowing how NuStar will make sure that this expansion has little or no effect on the island’s ecology. What steps have they taken to ensure all safety regulations are met? Who are the ones that will be assessing these criteria? Have they hired an objective team of experts to safeguard that the island natural resources are not lost? How will the results of such assessments be reported? Will they be presented in such a manner that everyone can understand?
Finally I think that Statia has been through enough since the 10-10-10 situation. Many people in Statia are struggling to survive. In my opinion the last thing they need is to be blind sighted by a big corporation with empty promises. Here is where I think the current government plays a key role. You are the representatives of the people. In order to represent the people you must first know what they want. So, ask them! Organize a referendum, inform the people adequately of their options. Give them a chance to present their ideas and opinions. Be the transparent government you promised to be! As for the people of Statia, I urge you not to be fooled by nice stories. Look at the countries around you. Reflect on the 10-10-10 situation and remember what your exclusion in the decision making process cost you. You cannot afford to make the same mistake again. Whatever your decision may be, make sure it is your choice. NuStar is/will safeguard their interest.
Who will do the same for you?! Ask yourself: What am I willing to invest in this expansion? What will it cost me? And more importantly: Is this something I am willing to sacrifice? For myself? My children? My future? My country?
“We gain strength, and courage, and confidence by each experience in which we really stop to look fear in the face… we must do that which we think we cannot.” -Eleanor Roosevelt-
Jean – Marie Molina