What did you feel when you first heard about it?
I’m sure that like so many of us, your first reaction to the news, was one of horror, panic, and utter helplessness. You probably though of a thousand reasons why the oil & gas company application to drill a well should not be granted. After all, who is better placed than you, a resident in the area, to know the problems and issues that such drilling for oil or gas will cause?
- But how do you convey your fears to the powers that be, in a way that persuades them that your point of view is the right one?
- How do you avoid being accused of having just a bad case of "NIMBY" (not in my backyard)?
- And how do you put up a decent fight against big oil and gas companies, that in general are experienced and highly skilled at presenting their case in the best possible light. And are well trained to offer very convincing arguments that many will struggle to disagree with?
Don’t despair - it is not only possible to defend your community, your family, the environment near you, in fact many others all over the world have done it and are doing it right this moment - and so can you.
Although many objections have indeed succeeded it isn’t done without spending many hours, many days and nights trawling the Internet, reading books, newspapers and spending countless other resources in a quest to write the most effective letter of objection to an offshore or onshore oil or gas well drilling application.
Despite your initial feelings of being helpless in the face of big oil and gas industry supported by National Government, there are many things you can do to object to a drilling application being granted. As a resident upon whom the oil and gas development project will have an impact, you are indeed in a strong position to understand the problems and issues that the industrialization of your area through onshore or offshore oil and gas and mineral extraction will bring.
In writing a letter of objection the biggest mistake you can make, is drafting your letter in an emotional tone or to make it personal. It is totally understandable that you will feel tempted to do so, when you are not only angry but also fearful about the proposed operations. But you will only weaken your case if you include points that bear no relevance to the application guidelines that the various authorities to whom you are writing will weigh the oil company application against.
You must convey your fears and opposition in such a way that convinces these receiving it, that your objection is substantive. However, remember, as I’ve stated earlier, you will be fighting against a company who is extremely experienced and highly skilled at presenting their case in the best possible light; offering arguments that even the most unwilling assessor will struggle to disagree with. They will also have the best legal team money can buy them.
In writing a letter of objection the worst mistake you can make is to write a letter that reflects your feelings. The temptation will be to put all the emotion you feel into your correspondence, but this not only weakens your argument, but it may also render your objection as irrelevant and your voice will not be heard.
Bottom line: Ensure that your letter is relevant, that it is written in a language that the assessing individuals will understand, and back it with any supporting evidence that you have.
Remember that for every legitimate objection there is another completely irrelevant objection to be made. The key is to find out which is which and stick to the former, make sure you keep your objection letter businesslike and relevant, and communicate with the assessing body in a language that they understand. And by language we don't mean Portuguese or English or any other language :-) ...
In the next few days we will be giving you more tips about this subject and support it with examples to assist you to write your own letter.