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Environmentalists oppose Subic coal-fired plant

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Environmentalists oppose Subic coal-fired plant

/ 08:41 PM May 23, 2011

SUBIC BAY FREEPORT—Environmentalists are opposing the construction of a coal-fired power plant here, citing its harmful effects to the environment and surrounding communities.

In a May 20 letter, Amalie Hamoy-Obusan, climate and energy campaigner for Greenpeace, told officials of the Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority (SBMA) that while coal might be comparatively cheap, “in reality, the cost of coal is far too high because it is the communities that live near and around these plants that ultimately suffer the negative impacts from the use of coal.”

Greenpeace, an independent global organization campaigning to protect and conserve the environment, has started coordinating with local organizations to stop the coal-fired plant project.

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Its attempt to stop the establishment of the plant has gathered momentum as Aboitiz Power Corp. (APC) announced in Metro Manila that it was raising funds to start building at least two power plants in the country, one in Subic and the other in Davao.

The proposed Subic plant project is being undertaken with Taiwan Cogeneration International Corp., through the joint venture Redondo Peninsula Energy Inc.

APC, reports said, gave assurance that its proposed power plants will have clean emissions. Initially, the company planned to source coal from Indonesia and from Semirara Mining Corp.

Hamoy-Obusan said coal ash is “very toxic and poses grave health and environmental risks.”

“We hope that [SBMA] will seriously reconsider this project,” she said. “As one of the countries most vulnerable to climate change,
SBMA must acknowledge its responsibility in actively addressing climate change through win-win mitigation and adaptation options.”

SBMA Administrator Armand Arreza declined to answer text messages and calls when the Inquirer tried to seek his views on the issue.

But Arreza, in his state of the free port address early this year, has expressed support for the coal-fired power plant project.

A source in the SBMA, who asked not to be named because he was not authorized to speak on the subject, said not all SBMA officials are behind the coal-fired power plant project.

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“This will be vigorously debated inside the agency,” the source said.

Zambales Vice Governor Ramon Lacbain said the provincial government would discuss the issue.

“The provincial government will respond to this and we will register our opposition through a resolution in the provincial board,” he said.

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TAGS: Energy production and distribution, Environmental Issues, Environmental Pollution
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