Batangas priests lead fight vs coal-fired power plant
Catholic priests in Batangas are leading the fight against the construction of a 600-megawatt coal-fired power plant, raising fears that it will bring massive environmental degradation to the province.
On Thursday, about 300 priests led by Lipa Archbishop Ramon Arguelles held a prayer rally before proceeding to a committee hearing called by the Batangas city council to discuss the coal power plant project of JG Summit Holdings Inc.
JG Summit is the holdings company of the Gokongwei Group, which also owns and operates a naphtha cracker plant in Batangas City.
The city council’s committee on the environment is deliberating on the company’s application for a location permit to put up two 300-megawatt plants on a 20-hectare site in Barangay Pinamucan Ibaba. A location permit is one of the initial requirements by the government before a company jump starts its operations.
Arguelles, in a phone interview, reiterated the Church’s position that generating power from coal, known to be one of the dirtiest fossil fuels and biggest sources of carbon dioxide, poses a great threat to the environment and human health.
“There are already the solar and wind energy, why (the need for) a coal plant?” he said.
The Inquirer tried to seek comments from the company’s representative, Rey Amparo, but calls to his mobile phone were unanswered.
Councilor Gerry de la Roca, committee chair, said the council was willing to consider the project. “It is really dirty. But the proponent (JG Summit) said they would have mitigating (measures) to (address) the pollution,” he said in a separate phone interview.
De la Roca, who is also a chemical engineer, said the company proposed to operate on a circulating fluidized bed combustion, a type of “modern technology” that would minimize the emission of carbon and fly ash.
“Right now, I do sympathize with the company. But, of course, this still needs to be studied carefully,” he said, adding that another power plant in Batangas could contribute a significant amount of electricity to the Luzon power grid.
The city council has required the company and the Church leaders to prepare their respective position papers for discussion in its hearing to be scheduled sometime in May.
In February, the priests also led a “prayer walk” attended by some 3,000 people. They have been campaigning against the coal-fired power plant through their churches. IDL
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