PM uses green children to gloss over Algarve oil threat
Portugal’s Prime Minister, António Costa, today spent time hugging trees in Loulé, visiting Monchique firefighters who had not been paid for a year, and ended the day answering tricky oil related questions posed by journalists.
Today was Children’s Day, noted in the Algarve by a visit from the smiley PM who started his tour by hugging trees with a group of green T-shirted kids, ‘in defense of the forest,’ in Duarte Pacheco park in Loulé.
Next, Costa was off to the Monchique hills, one of the fire risk areas for the coming summer, saying to assembled firefighters and journalists that the country has pulled out all the stops to make the forests safe in the nationwide scrub cleaning exercise.
The firefighters, a forestry brigade which has been working for a year, has not yet been paid as the Government has withheld funds due to the Association of Forest Owners of the Eastern Algarve. The bill so far is €40,000 which the Council in Monchique has been helping to subsidise.
Costa was asked by journalists, how could he explain his tree hugging when at the same time allowing oil and gas exploration off the Aljezur coast, especially without the safeguard, however flimsy, of an environmental impact study.
Costa stuck to the well rehearsed mantra now adopted by key ministers, that if oil is to be drilled, only then does there have to be an environmental impact study.
Another government ruse is the old ‘saving on oil imports’ ploy whereby the government continues to fool the public into to imagining that extracting oil from Portuguese waters somehow will reduce the nation’s import bill, which it won’t as Galp-ENI will sell any oil shipped to Portugal at the international barrel price.
Costa said today that “the least we can do is find out whether we have resources or not,” making it sound like the oil somehow belongs to the State when in fact it has been signed away in sloppily negotiated concession agreements that will leave oil companies in profit and Portugal facing the environmental costs of production and spillage.
The use today of smiley, happy children to help paint a green gloss over the government’s pro-oil agenda, marks a new low for an administration that continues to evade the truth, to deny the consequences and block open debate on oil and gas exploration.