Halt sought to Palawan coal power plant construction
Supported by environmental groups and local residents, three lawmakers on Tuesday urged the Congress to stop the construction of a controversial coal-fired power plant in Palawan.
In House Resolution No. 2164, Bayan Muna Representatives Neri Colmenares and Carlos Zarate and Gabriela Rep. Luz Ilagan called for an investigation of the Palawan Council for Sustainable Development’s (PCSD) granting of strategic environmental plan (SEP) clearance to the D.M. Consunji Inc. (DMCI) project.
Met with strong opposition for two years, the DMCI plan to construct a 15-megawatt coal power plant in Barangay Bato-Bato in Narra town was given a go signal on May 28 after the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) issued an environmental compliance certificate. The coal plant was also endorsed by the Palawan provincial board.
“We filed HR 2164 because DMCI’s Palawan coal power project presents real threats to the globally recognized and protected status of Palawan’s unparalleled biodiversity,” Zarate said in a statement.
“The construction of a pollutive project in Palawan also contradicts the government’s choice of the province as a climate-resilient ‘Ecotown’ demonstration site,” he added.
The bill’s sponsors also contradicted claims of power insufficiency in Palawan, saying the total energy power capacity of energy providers in Palawan was already at 53.7 MW.
The proposed measure added that the 15-MW coal power plant would be inappropriate to Palawan’s existing transmission infrastructure, which it said could carry only a maximum of 12 MW.
“Given Palawan’s surplus power supply and existing clean energy options, we challenge our colleagues in Congress to investigate how the PCSD still utterly failed its mandate to protect the environment in its approval of an expensive and pollutive coal-fired power plant,” Zarate said, noting the province had a total renewable energy potential of up to 164 MW from solar, wind and hydroelectric power plants.
Echoing Zarate, environmental groups said the “questionable” construction of a coal power plant was unnecessary given the supposed availability of “clean and competitive energy alternatives” in Palawan.
“Congress should probe into how a pollutive coal-fired power plant was approved despite the copious lack of social acceptability and extensive environmental risks,” said Leon Dulce, campaign coordinator of Kalikasan People’s Network for the Environment.
Rejected twice by local communities, the construction of the coal power plant was moved from its original site in Aborlan town to Barangay Bato-Bato.
“We hope this investigation would lead to an honest review of Palawan’s SEP law and the PCSD’s performance through the year,” Zarate added. RC
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