Reference: Mark A. Cervantes


Green Alert activists and members of the Freedom from Debt Coalition-Negros (FDC-Negros) stormed the Provincial Government on December 8 to condemn the proposal to put up a 20MW coal fired power plant in the Municipality of Pulupandan.

In August, Green Alert Negros slammed the plan of Governor Alfredo Marañon Jr. to push for the construction of a P20-billion coal-fired power plant in Pulupandan, Negros Occidental as a long-term solution to the power problems in the province. The said coal plant will produce 80MW.

The plan was revealed by Governor Marañon after his meeting with top officials of Global Business Power Corporation last August at Nature’s Village Resort in Talisay City where they discussed the company’s plan of a multi-billion peso investment in Negros Occidental by constructing at least two coal-fired power plants.

“It seems that the decision of Governor Maranon to push through with the coal fired power plant of GBPC is shortsighted and is only based on the fact that it’s a huge investment and nobody here can afford.” stressed by Jun-jun Mojica of GAN.

“He is also decided to put Negros in the map as one of the most backward Province in the Philippines and in the world because of embracing coal fired power plant that has been rejected by first world countries. The coal fired power plant will also be his first “environmental crime” under his administration alongside with a long list of environmental disgrace committed by the Provincial Government such as the entry of the geothermal power plant of the Energy Development Corporation inside Mt. Kanlaon Natural Park”. added by Mojica.

Cheap but the Dirtiest

According to GAN, Dr James E Hansen, a NASA scientist, asserted that “coal is the dirtiest fuel. Coal burning has released and spread around the world more than 100 times more radioactive material than all the nuclear power plants in the world. Mercury released in coal burning contaminates the world ocean as well as our rivers, lakes and soil. Air pollution from coal burning kills more than 100,000 people per year. If such consequences were occurring from nuclear power, nuclear plants would all be closed.”

The environmental organization also warns that the said coal fired power plant will emit harmful gasses such as nitrogen oxide, mercury, sulfur dioxide and carbon dioxide.

Coal plant creates pollution “hot spots” is poses significant health threats. People who live in areas near coal-fired plants are acutely affected. In these areas, death rates are much higher than in areas with few or no coal-fired plants.

Coal is the single greatest threat to our climate

The environmental organization also stressed that coal contributes more to climate change than any other fossil fuel.  They asserted that across the planet, 11 billion tons of CO2 come from coal-fired power generation every year. In 2005, this made up around 41 percent of all CO2 emissions from fossil fuels. If current plans to build new coal-fired power plants across the world, then coal will be responsible for 60 percent of CO2 emissions by 2030. Coal is inherently higher-polluting and more carbon-intensive than other energy alternatives, added by GAN.

Not in our Backyard!

Proposal to put up coal fired power plants has been strongly rejected in Negros and in other part of the countries because of its environmental and health impacts. In 1997 Ogden Energy Group proposed to construct a 50MW coal fired power plant in Pulupandan with total investment of $100million. Prior to Pulupandan, Ogden also proposed to put up the coal plant in Bago City, Silay and San Carlos City. All other 3 municipalities strongly rejected the proposed coal fired power plant.

The 50MW coal fired power plant of Ogden in Pulupandan finally met its demise in 1999 because of strong opposition from the surrounding municipalities of Pulupandan, the Church, local government units, NGOs and private sector.

GAN assert that communities surrounding existing coal power plants in the Philippines attest to the detrimental effects of coal plants. People living near the coal plant in Calaca, Batangas have experienced increases in respiratory ailments and difficulties in finding potable groundwater sources. They also complain of continuing noise and intermittent explosion-like noise, as well as extremely foul odor. Bleaching of coral reefs surrounding the coal plant in Masinloc, Zambales has been reported. Fishermen around the coal plants in Calaca, Masinloc, and in Naga, Cebu report diminishing fish catch. Communities near the coal plant in Pagbilao, Quezon experienced a 12-hour ash fall just recently because of failure of the pollution controls of the plant

Energy Crisis, Environmental Services and Disasters

It seems that the only option for the Provincial Government to address the energy crisis as they claimed has always been detrimental to the environment even if there are other “favorable options” such as hydro power plant, solar or wind energy.

In 2008, the Province panicked when the Energy Development Corporation (formerly PNOC) informed them of a looming energy crisis until 2010. Therefore, the only remedy is to allow EDC to enter the buffer zone of Mt. Kanlaon Natural Park which is not only illegal but is also immoral.

Now, with other renewable energy options in the table, Governor Maranon seems to nod his head in agreement to push through with a backward technology that most nations reject. While other provinces and nations opt to pursue a much cleaner and environmental friendly energy option to address climate change and global warming, our Provincial Government wanted to do the otherwise. Why, because it’s a multi billion investment?, asked by GAN.

GAN and FDC Negros already warned the Provincial Government of the impending disasters brought about by natural hazards that is exacerbated by climate change due to mining proliferation and free-for-all illegal logging which the Provincial Government is a major culprit.

They also assert to protect the remaining natural resources that the Province possess because its environmental services such as watershed, biodiversity, flora and fauna hangs in balance if activities such as mining, logging and coal fired power plant will not be addressed.

Both organizations also warned the consumers that the proposed coal fired power plant will not be cheap at all since GBPC is a private corporation and the whole process of coal generation entails cost from coal mine extraction to processing and finally power generation.

Recently, the Negros Environmental Watch and Green Alert Negros circulated a position paper against the proposed coal fired power plant and stressed its “Cradle to Grave” impact if will not be stopped.

Green Alert Negros participated and organized the 350 Global Party in 2009 in Bacolod City, Negros Occidental wherein a 350 human formation was made infront of the Provincial Capitol to push for policy reforms and clear actions to address impacts of climate change.