Green groups, lawmakers ask Congress to investigate approval of DMCI coal-fired power plant in Palawan

Source: 
Joint press release
Date of publication: 
10 June, 2015

House resolution filed inquiring on irregularities, environmental risks of coal project

Environmental activist group Kalikasan People’s Network for the Environment (Kalikasan PNE), Palawan Alliance for Clean Energy (PACE) joined progressive lawmakers yesterday in filing House Resolution No. 2164, which called for an on-site investigation, in aid of legislation, of the Palawan Council for Sustainable Development’s (PCSD) granting of a Strategic Environmental Plan (SEP) clearance to DMCI Power Corporation’s application to construct its proposed 15-megawatt coal-fired power plant in Narra, Palawan last May 28.

“Congress should probe into how a pollutive coal-fired power plant was approved despite the copious lack of social acceptability and extensive environmental risks. The move is especially questionable given the availability of clean and competitive energy alternatives in the province,” said Leon Dulce, campaign coordinator of Kalikasan PNE.

HR 2164, principally authored by Bayan Muna’s Rep. Neri Colmenares and Rep. Carlos Zarate alongside Gabriela Rep. Luz Ilagan, identified coal as one of the “dirtiest” sources of energy, as well as the sole contributor of 44% of global carbon emissions in 2012.

“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. The construction of a pollutive project in Palawan also contradicts the government’s choice of the province as a climate-resilient ‘Ecotown’ demonstration site,” said Bayan Muna Rep. Carlos Zarate.

Declared by UNESCO in 1990 as a “Man and Biosphere Reserve”, the island province of Palawan is home to 105 of 475 threatened and endangered species in the Philippines, 67 of which are endemic to the Philippines, with 42 of them located in Palawan.

The Climate Change Commission declared the town of San Vicente, Palawan as the model of its Ecotown Framework, where the National Climate Change Action Plan is applied to local communities.

HR 2164 furthered that contrary to claims of power insufficiency in the province, Palawan only has a peak energy demand of 35 MW. The total energy power capacity of energy providers in Palawan is already at 53.7 MW, rounding off the island’s power reserves at 45% of the peak demand. The resolution further explains that the 15 MW coal power project is inappropriate to the existing transmission infrastructure in Palawan, which can carry only a maximum of 12MW of total power.

“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. We hope this investigation would lead to an honest review of Palawan’s SEP law and the PCSD’s performance through the year,” said Zarate.

The resolution notes that Palawan has a total renewable energy potential of 164MW from hydroelectric, solar and wind power, which according to studies meant potential annual savings of PhP 750 million in fossil fuel costs and a reduction of 26,000 tonnes in carbon emissions.

The environment group called on the House of Representatives, particularly the House Committees on Ecology, Natural Resources and Climate Change, to support and prioritize the call for joint investigation.

“Palawan remains the last ecological frontier of the Philippines, and DMCI’s acquisition of the SEP clearance is a threat to this already precarious status,” ended Dulce.

Clemente Bautista, National Coordinator
Kalikasan People’s Network for the Environment
26 Matulungin St. Central District, Diliman, Quezon City, Philippines, 1100
Tel: +63 (2) 924 8756 | E-mail: secretariat [at] kalikasan [dot] net | Site: www.kalikasan.net