The Environmental Protection Agency has denied online Publication by this paper dated March 9, 2020, describing it as “disinformation, unfounded and misinformation”.
The agency further said the publication is intended to ‘malign the impeccable reputation’ of the institution and its Executive Director, Nathaniel Blama.
The Agency in a Press statement read by the Deputy Executive Director, Randall M. Dobayou, II said “Wherever the origin of the allegations, the article contains a compounded sum of falsehoods and contradictions of the Environmental Protection and Management Laws of Liberia (EPML) coupled with issues of hearsay and flaws of illegitimacy regarding the regulatory mandate of the Agency.”
Mr. Dobayou also said “the article seeks to impugn the character of the Hon. Nathaniel T. Blama, the Executive Director of the EPA, his exemplary leadership style, and unwavering commitment to serving the people of Liberia alongside the management team he has established at the Agency. These are clear indications of unprofessional and unethical journalism where biased ulterior motives, lies and fallacies, and ‘personal self-intent’ overrule the proper balance of facts. At the EPA, we deem this as being counterproductive to the critical work that the Government of Liberia through its agencies is doing for the forward match and development of Liberia.”
The EPA said it takes compliance with the laws of Liberia as well as the professional ethical and moral conduct its officials very seriously.”
Regarding the allegation of the entity’s Executive Director increasing the renewal and permit fees without the knowledge of the board, Mr. Dobayou denied such.
“The public should be informed that sections 29 and 45 of the Act Establishing the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA Act) approved on November 26, 2002 and published by the Authority of the Ministry of foreign affairs Monrovia, Liberia on April 30, 2003,together with the Environmental Protection and Management Law of Liberia, respectively, mandate the EPA to charge fees on permits for the approval of environmental licenses and other regulatory requirements which enable the EPA to review the compliance of environmental projects with the standards of sustainable management of the environment,” he said.
The EPA’s statement further said “The EPA has diligently put in place a clear administrative process for the review of project briefs and has a robust Compliance and Enforcement Department which independently ensures the implementation of the all rules, regulations and procedures relating to the environmental impact assessment. This regulatory process undergoes review every five years after the implementation date to ensure continued compliance and effectiveness.”
“Indeed, it is evident that the current fees regime is a mandate of the law and was established by the Agency prior to the appointment of the current management team led by Honorable Nathaniel T. Blama Sr. and his able Deputy Hon. Randall M. Dobayou,” the statement further added.
According to him, the EPML clearly outlines the duties of the EPA in an Environmental and Social Impact Assessment process to develop and implement regulations establishing the procedures for evaluating the impact of the proposed project; maintain a Registry of the names and qualifications of approved consultants from which the Agency, in consultation with the Line Ministry, shall authorize a consultant to prepare an environment impact study; and (c) employ and train such personnel as may necessary to ensure effective compliance by project proponent/applicant with the environmental impact assessment requirements under the law.
“The Agency conducted an ESIA Licensure training in 2018 for Environmental Consultants or evaluators, twenty one (21) firms were declared fully compliant with the Agency’s requirements, were accredited and incorporated into the Agency’s Registry as the only License Environmental Consultant firms to undertake environmental-related studies in Liberia. The law, therefore permits licensed consultants to conduct and prepare environmental impact reports, audits and management plans which the EPA is mandated to review,” the statement added.
NOTE: As a professional media entity, we decided to give the EPA the benefit by publishing their response, but there are more issues that will be unearthed than what they presented to the media on March 10, 2020.