MAC/20: Mines and Communities

Filipinos present a house resolution for coal-power moratorium

Published by MAC on 2010-11-29
Source: Kalikasan-PNE, Sun Star Davao

The new President of the Philippines, Nonoy Aquino, has vowed to expand coal-fired power in the Philippines (much of the coal to be imported from Indonesia).

The Asian Development Bank appears to be supporting this policy, regardless of the health and environmental consequences.

Apart from the damage done by coal-mining, including on the Philippine islands, the policy is itself linked to promotion of metallic mining projects. For instance, Xstrata is looking to install a coal-fired power station, to meet the power needs of its huge Tampakan mine.

However, an increasing number of Filipinos, including lawmakers and celebrities, have taken a stand against this government folly.

Filipino celebrities unite with progressive environmental and partylist groups in a resolution calling for the moratorium on coal-fired power plants in the country

Kalikasan-PNE Press release

24 November 2010

What does Manny Pacquiao, veteran political activist Satur Ocampo, Pinoy rock star Chito Miranda, actress politician Rep. Lani Mercado, and former president of Catholic Bishop Conference of the Philippines Bishop (CBCP) Archbishop Angel Lagdameo of Jaro, Iloilo have in common? They are all championing the advocacy to have a national moratorium on the construction of new coal power plants in the country.

The said personalities along with different organizations voiced out their support to the House Resolution filed by representatives from partylists Bayan Muna, Gabriela Women's Party, Anakpawis, ACT, and Kabataan have filed a house resolution calling for the immediate moratorium on the construction and/or expansion of all coal-fired power plant projects in the country until 2050.

"Coal fired power plants and the country's increasing dependence on coal for electricity generation puts the health and environment of the nation at great risk and adds much economic burden to the already impoverished Filipinos," said Meggie Nolasco of Kalikasan-PNE and spokesperson of Network Opposed to Coal-Fired Power Plant (NO to Coal Power Plant).

The resolution is in response to the Aquino administration's push for two new coal power plants in Iloilo City and Cebu province to operate early next year and commitment to foreign and local energy companies to construct four coal power plants in the country.

As a show of President Aquino's devotion to coal, he has recently boasted of the P2.6 billion investment of Japanese-owned company Marubeni for the expansion of three Philippine coal-fired power plants in Sual, Pangasinan, Pagbilao, Quezon, and Calaca, Batangas.

"The resolution calling for the moratorium on coal-fired power plants will bring immediate and long-term benefits to the Filipinos. Aside from mitigating air pollution and global warming, the country will concentrate in harnessing our indigenous renewable energy sources such as geothermal and hydro power," explained Nolasco.

According to the US-based National Renewable Energy Laboratory, the Philippine wind energy source potential can supply over seven times the current power demand of the country. Likewise, the abundant solar energy in the country is rated as one with the highest efficiency ratings in the world. In the Visayas Region, the bulk of energy supply comes from geothermal power production. Philippines is the second top global producer of geothermal power, next only to US.

The group clarified that they are not calling for the closure of existing coal power plants in the country. The target timeline for coal moratorium until 2050 goes with the deadline set by the United Nation Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) to stabilize global carbon emission, climate change, and global warming.

If current carbon trend emission continues, global greenhouse gases emissions are projected to increase by 52% by 2050 and the global mean temperature will rise by 1.7 - 2.4 degrees centigrade. Climate experts project these changes to cause catastrophic effects both on humans and the environment.

"Imposing a coal moratorium in the country is a great contribution in combating global warming. More so, avoiding the use of coal for power will alleviate our dependency to imported fossil fuels and dirty power technologies. Given the right policies and programs on energy, the government can definitely provide a cheap, stable and clean power supply to the Filipino people, without sacrificing the welfare of our communities and environment", Nolasco ended.

Contact: Meggie Nolasco, public information officer Kalikasan PNE 09278050008 or 9209099.

KALIKASAN People's Network for the Environment is a network of people's organizations (POs), non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and environmental advocates. It believes that the struggle for the environment is a struggle of the people, thus all environmental action shall have the interest of the majority at their core.

National Coordinator
Kalikasan People's Network for the Environment (Kalikasan-PNE)
No.26 Matulungin St. Bgy. Central, Diliman, Quezon City, Philippines 1100
Tel. No. +63-2-9248756 Fax No. +63-2-9209099

Progressive groups insist on ADB's withdrawal of financial support from the dirty KEPCO Naga Coal Plant

Kalikasan PNE Press statement

11 November 2010

Kalikasan People's Network for the Environment backs up the demands of the local opposition for Asian Development Bank (ADB), the biggest public bank in Asia, to stop its financial support to the Korean-owned Naga Coal Plant in Cebu.

ADB has met up with the local groups who filed and have been granted a Temporary Environmental Protection Order (TEPO) by the local green court of Mandaue against the 200 megawatt (MW) coal power plant in Naga City, Cebu. ADB provided a $120 million loan in December 2009 to the said coal-fired power plant owned by Korea Electric Power Corporation (KEPCO) and SPC Power Corporation.

In spite of the strong community opposition and ADB's self-proclaimed commitment to support climate change mitigation and develop renewable energies in the Philippines, ADB continued to fund the dirty and pollutive coal energy project not only in Cebu but other areas as well.

In 2008, ADB provided $370 million for the acquisition and rehabilitation of the 600MW Masinloc Coal Power Plant and 728 MW Pabilao Coal Power Plant in Luzon. ADB has also consistently funded coal power projects in Asia despite coal-fired power plants being proven to be the dirtiest and hazardous energy source and primary source of global carbon emissions and climate change.

Coal-fired power plants have also been identified as having the highest external cost among other energy plants which is the cost of impacts of the plant that were not computed or compensated such as health and environmental damages. Though coal as a fuel source is cheaper to buy for energy companies, it does not result to lower electricity rates for Filipino consumers.

Coal power was the pushed by KEPCO, SPC and ADB not because it is safest, cheapest, and most efficient power supply option in Cebu and Central Visayas, but because it will surely bring in the highest revenue and profit for them at the expense of the communities and environment.

Even in the KEPCO study, it was reported that the Philippines is the world's second largest user of geothermal energy for power generation with 1,958 MW accounting for 12% of the country's total installed capacity. Almost 50% of the Philippines total geothermal capacity is located in the Visayas (723 MW in Leyte and 242 MW in Negros) with an excess of 395M MW of electricity produced by geothermal plants in Samar and Leyte.

The total geothermal potential in the Visayas is estimated at 1,619 MW constituting 42% of the country's total geothermal reserves. With the excess electricity and rich geothermal potential that can be tapped, there is more than enough energy to supply the demand and need of Visayas. Yet, KEPCO, SPC, and ADB, pursued the coal-fired power plant project and was permitted by the government.

By supporting the coal project, the government and ADB extends its support to private corporations' greed for profit, lack of enabling laws to protect our communities and environment in the country, corruption in the bureaucracy, and flawed energy policies and programs in the country.

The ADB was conscious enough of the opposition to invite the local groups and talk about the petition against the project, however, if the ADB is indeed truthful to their statement to mitigate climate change, protect the environment, and develop clean and renewable energies then they will withdraw their financial support from the SPC-KEPCO Naga Coal Power Plant, otherwise, it would be just another case of greenwashing for corporate gain.

Reference: Clemente Bautista, national coordinator, Kalikasan PNE 09228449787 or 9209099.

KALIKASAN People's Network for the Environment is a network of people's organizations (POs), non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and environmental advocates. It believes that the struggle for the environment is a struggle of the people, thus all environmental action shall have the interest of the majority at their core.

National Coordinator
Kalikasan People's Network for the Environment (Kalikasan-PNE)
No.26 Matulungin St. Bgy. Central, Diliman, Quezon City, Philippines 1100
Tel. No. +63-2-9248756 Fax No. +63-2-9209099

Green group warns against ill effects of coal plants

Sun Star Davao

16 November 2010

AN INTERNATIONAL environmental group warned of the ill effects of coal-fired power plants planned for construction in various parts of Mindanao, saying a decentralized system of renewable energy is a smarter choice.

Greenpeace, with offices over 40 countries, said they are set to establish their office in Mindanao, where more coal-fired power plants are to be constructed.

Greenpeace communication officer Lea Guerrero said they are urging the National Government to support renewable energy instead of supporting the construction of these plants, particularly the $450 million coal-fired power plant in the coastal town of Maasim in Sarangani and the proposed plant in Davao City by Aboitiz Group.

Guerero claims that it's not true coal is the cheapest choice. "The only reason why coal is cheap is because it relies on a lot of government subsidy," Guerrero said during Kapehan sa SM yesterday.

Coal allegedly has a huge effect on GDP (gross domestic product), brings about crop losses because of floods and lost lives. These are the effects of coal that cannot be counted, she said.

Guerrero said as climate change has been addressed as the biggest challenge for the world in the future, countries have committed to lower their fossil fuel emmission and to change to renewable energy.

"Ang panawagan namin sa National Government, kay President Aquino, since he has made a committment along with Southeast Asian countries that by 2020 they'll be using 50 percent renewable energy, we hope that he would fulfill that promise," Guerrero said.

According to Guerrero, "If you look at ... ADB (Asian Development Bank) report of2009, coal is one of the biggest causes of climate change." Of all the fossil fuels, coal emits the most carbon dioxide, and the climate change in each country is massive, she said.

Greenpeace is urging the government, Guerrero said, to consider its proposal for a decentralized energy system "wherein the source of energy are not dependent on the few".

Guerrero said the Philippines, as an archipelago, has been using a system on energy that is not suited to its geography.

"We have a Renewable Energy Report, this has been explain several times here in Mindanao through forums. Our proposal is decentralized dapat ang system. You don't put power in just one place and then distribute it. You bring power where it's needed," Guerrero said.

"Hindi siya akma para sa Pilipinas mismo. Ang centralized system on power na ganito is suitable sa mga malalawak talaga na lugar such as sa US, na may one plant with 600 megawatts and then dinidistribute ang power through transmission lines. Ang Pilipinas archipelago, with a lot of possible sources of renewable energy such as hydropower and wind energy," Guerrero said.

Guerrero said the status quo at present is the country has "a few big plants which bank on sources that pose a lot of effects to the environment and then distribute it through transmission lines, that's why we have transmission losses."

"This can be avoided if we would have a decentralized grid," she said.

Guerrero said Greenpeace has been asking the national government to support investments on renewable energy.

Guerrero insists that claims that renewable energy technologies don't provide electricity 24 hours are not true. "There are technologies now which can do that. We would just need a lot of effort and commitment so we could tap into these efficient solutions," she said.

Mercury in fish

Guerrero also elaborated on how coal-fired plants emit mercury and other toxins into the environment.

"Wala pang technology for coal plants wherein zero emission ito. That remains a really big problem. Mercury is a bioaccumulative toxin na nagbi build-up sa animal tissues, especially sa taba ng isda, sa belly. It can pose public health problems related to fish consumption," Guerrero said.

Guerrero said coal-burning power plants are the largest source of mercury emissions related to human activity in the United States.

Guerrero said that there's one study, conducted in the US where a connection was made between mercury and fish. Fish take in mercury from the coal plant. The longer mercury stays in the food chain, the stronger its toxin becomes, Guerrero said.

When fish is eaten by people, the mercury toxin stays in the body. The worst effect of mercury in humans is in the nervous system, particularly in the development of the brain and intelligence, she said.

Coal plant in city

The AboitizPower Coporation in October proposed to the City Council their plan to construct in Davao City a $400-million coal-fired power plant starting 2011 targetted to end after three years.

Erramon Aboitiz, CEO and president of Aboitiz & Co., and Aboitiz Equity Ventures Inc., personally presented their plan before City Council members of a coal fire plant that would use clean coal technology that would ensure low carbon emissions.

Vice Mayor Rodrigo Duterte has expressed his support to Aboitiz saying this would to add to the power grid as Mindanao, which is dependent on hydropower plants, as well as on his perception that the city needs more energy to attract more investors.

But City Mayor Sara Duterte said she would just let the people decide on whether they would welcome the proposed 200-megawatt coal-fired plant.

"If the greater majority of the city would be for it, I will not say no," Duterte said.

But she insisted she remains lukewarm about the idea. "Na-torn ko as a public servant and as a mother (I am torn between being a public servant and a mother)," she said.

The mayor said she is aware that having an energy plant this big would mean the city's energy consumers would enjoy a lower power rate.

"The location of the power plant would translate how big our electric bills are. Kung layo ang power plant, mas dako ang atong bayran. Kung duol, gamay ang increase sa electric bills (If the power plant is far from us, it would cost more in the transmission thus would result in higher electricity bills. If the power plant is near, it would mean lower electricity bills for us)," she said.

However, she said a coal plant would have a drawback on the environment to which the future generation would feel its ill effects.

The city mayor said that as a mother, she is worried about the environment she will be leaving to her daughter.

(Jade C. Zaldivar)

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