Friday, September 18, 2009

Fisherfolks group seeks coal-fired plants’ moratorium

Fisherfolks group seeks coal-fired plants’ moratorium

By Ma. Bernadette A. Parco, Editorial Assistant

A NON-GOVERNMENT organization for marginalized fisherfolks is seeking a moratorium on coal-fired power plants because the adverse effects of climate change also affects the marginalized society.

The group, Central Visayas Fisherfolk Development Center (Fidec) Inc., also called on the government to instead harness the country's renewable energy sources.

The call came amid the expanding campaign of different groups across the country for a moratorium on coal-fired plants.

“It is high time for a moratorium especially at this time when we feel the worsening effects of climate change that threatens, in particular, the food security of our country,” said Vince Cinches, Central Visayas Fisherfolk Development Center Inc. executive director.

He cited the construction of power plants in Cebu, specifically two 400- megawatt power plants operated by Salcon Power Corporation and another plant under construction, which owned by Korean Electric Power Corporation – SPC both in Naga City, Cebu.

Cebu Daily News tried to get the side of KSPC, but as of press time there was no official statement released by the company.

“To think that the Philippines is the second in the world in terms of capacity to produce geothermal energy. The government is not harnessing the country's renewable energy sources. The government is promoting activities that accelerate the effects of climate change,” said Cinches.

Cinches said the members of the Philippine Climate Watch Alliance (PCWA) from South Korea had issued a warning against the proliferation of coal-fired project plants in the country.

Meggie Nolasco, PCWA spokesperson, said the Arroyo administration was pursuing at least nine coal-fired power plant projects in the country.

These were the 300 megawatt (MW) expansion in Pagbilao, Quezon; 100 MW in Concepcion, Iloilo; 165 MW in Iloilo City; 200 MW each in Naga and Toledo Cities in Cebu; 300 MW expansion in Masinloc, Zambales; 300 MW in Olongapo, Zambales; 150 MW in Sultan Kudarat; and 200 MW in Saranggani.

The government also issued 44 coal mining contracts in the country.

Nolasco called the Arroyo government as the major promoter of pollutive technologies and dirty source of energy in the country because coal has been identified as the dirtiest source of energy and a major contributor to pollution and global warming.

“It is thus alarming that majority of the power plants that are poised to be constructed in the country are coal-fired, at the same time the government is very generous in issuing coal mining permits to private corporations,” said Nolasco.

She said there is an expanding campaign from the moratorium on coal power plants in the Philippines.

The campaign included the rally launched in Sarangani province yesterday, the recent solidarity mission in Cebu, the environmental investigative mission in Iloilo, and the planned protest action in Catanduanes this week.

She said there will also be a signature campaign to show the ire of the people against the environmentally disastrous projects.

Dr. Giovanni Tapang, of science activist group AGHAM, said coal power plants are now being packaged as a clean technology.

“Contrary to many scientific studies and research, coal proponents are promising that these plants are environmentally safe and pose no dangers to public health. But the fact is coal emits large volume of air pollution and produces toxic chemicals that can enter the environment and the food chain,” he said.

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