Oil companies are running up against Belizean environmental organizations and their lawyers in their pursuit of oil off the coast of Belize.

Just over a week ago, ELAW partner Audrey Matura and her colleagues at Oceana won an important preliminary decision from a Belizean judge in their challenge of six contracts to explore for oil offshore.   The judge threw out the government’s attempt to have the case dismissed on procedural grounds.   The judge has one more preliminary issue to consider before the case can finally be heard on the merits.  This is a fantastic step forward for protecting Belize’s critical coastal ecosystems and the people dependent on them.

Earlier this summer, Audrey Matura and her colleagues had another legal victory that paves the way to protecting Belizeans and the Mesoamerican Reef from damage caused by oil exploration and extraction.  In June, a Belizean judge granted Oceana permission to proceed with its case against the government for improperly throwing out signatures on a petition to ask Belizeans to vote on whether to ban offshore oil exploration.  Audrey and Oceana, joined by a coalition of environmental organizations, go back to court on September 25, 2012 for a full hearing.

ELAW is supporting Audrey’s efforts and we congratulate her and her colleagues for the success so far on these ground-breaking cases!

Jennifer Gleason
Staff Attorney