Target: Rafael Correa, President of Ecuador
Goal: Protect the rainforest of Yasuni National Park from oil drilling.
Last week, Ecuador’s National Assembly voted to allow oil drilling in the Yasuni National Park. This drilling project would produce 980 million barrels of crude oil and roughly $18.3 billion in profit for Ecuador, but the environmental toll on the park would be devastating. Perhaps more striking is the effect this pursuit would have on indigenous groups, two of which have remained uncontacted and unindustrialized. These two groups, the Taegeri and Taromenane, are among the last uncontacted groups in the world and the detriments to their health and cultural heritage cannot be repaid through the profits from drilling in their region. Indigenous rights groups and environmental activists from around the world have rallied to put an end to drilling in this Yasuni Park.
Ecuador’s oil prospects have received heavy international attention for more than three decades. When oil was first discovered beneath Ecuador’s dense and vast portion of the Amazon, oil lobbyists took a keen interest in exploiting its reserves. It was not long after drilling began that indigenous groups, forest colonists, and others reported serious health concerns. Children were highly at risk and infant mortality skyrocketed. New legislation was passed in response, and tougher regulations were enforced. But as is so often the case, international economic pressures, especially those imposed by China in this case, wore down on Ecuador’s fight to keep their forests intact, and after nearly six years of intense lobbying, the National Assembly has relaxed their stance and will begin extracting more oil within five years.
During these next five years, if tight regulations are not reimposed, a massive pipeline will be laid from the source of the oil to one or more extraction points. This is what makes inland oil drilling especially taxing on the surrounding environment: forests, land, towns, and anything else in the way must be cleared and kept clear. Though Ecuador will assure the public that all strides will be taken to damage as little habitat as possible, there is no way this project can be completed economically that would not destroy entire portions of the forest; it is simply impossible.
Please voice your opinion to President Correa and request that he rethink this critical decision. Ecuador has all but depleted its natural oil reserves and is inches away from damaging the Amazon beyond the possibility of recovery, a tipping point environmentalists have feared us reaching for two decades. Ecuador must be urged to reevaluate: as biologist E. O. Wilson once put it, “Destroying a rainforest for economic gain is like burning a Renaissance painting to cook a meal.” Tell President Correa you are against drilling in Yasuni National Park today!
Although you have been disappointed by the lack of international support for your past environmentally conscious decisions–like protecting your beautiful forests from further exploitation–we the undersigned must urge you to remain on the path to a sustainable future for Ecuador’s portion of the Amazon forest. The worldwide environmental community commended you for your choice not to allow rampant oil drilling in your rich forests; please do not undo the strides you have made for simple, brief economic gain. You will only know the true value of your natural resources once they have been depleted.
As an international figure and leader of your country, it is paramount that you make decisions that serve the best interests of your people, indigenous, colonial, and industrialized alike, while also ensuring a bright future for generations to come. Drilling, even under heavy regulations, will devastate parts of the forest, resulting in deforestation and habitat fragmentation, air and water pollution, and health problems for at-risk populations, all of which directly conflict with your duties as President. Please offer counsel to your National Assembly and reopen this issue for discussion before permanent damage is done that cannot be repaired. We have applauded your actions in the past, but do not make us regret that: it is not too late to save your country’s remaining forest from big oil. Thank you for reading this and we hope you will rethink your position.
[Your Name Here]