Olongapo SubicBay BatangGapo Newscenter

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Why build a coal plant in Subic?

By Solita Collas-Monsod - Philippine Daily Inquirer

Tourism organizations in the provinces of Bataan and Zambales and the Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority (SBMA) are against it. Civic organizations (e.g., the Rotary Club of Subic), homeowners’ associations, fisherfolk organizations and NGOs in the area are against it. The Subic Bay Freeport Chamber of Commerce (SBFCC) is against it. Position papers have been submitted, resolutions have been signed, critical remarks and questions have been posed (unanswered, or not satisfactorily answered) during “consultations” as part of a so-called “scoping” process. In fact, there has rarely been such unanimity of opinion in opposition to a project.
And yet, it is still alive and kicking, with a Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) task force in the central office (the DENR regional office was bypassed, apparently because they were against it too) still “reviewing” the case, even as press releases by the project proponent are being published that construction will begin this year. The proponent must have powerful connections.

By “it,” or the “project,” I am referring to a 300-megawatt coal-fired power plant to be constructed within the SBMA area, in the Redondo Peninsula, specifically, right in front of Grande Island. By the “project proponent,” I am referring to the Aboitiz Power Corp. in partnership with a Taiwanese corporation.

Imagine this please, dear reader: an area promoted internationally as an environmentalist’s, not to mention a tourist’s, paradise—clear, unpolluted air and water, virgin forests, pristine beaches, breathtaking views. An area (with Clark) designated for tourist development by President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo herself as part of her 10-point agenda. And then someone plunks down a coal-fired generation plant right in the middle of it, or at least in full view of everyone there.

The proposal should have been turned down outright by anyone with common sense: the project will kill the environmental and tourism goose that lays the golden eggs. No wonder the people and groups mentioned above are up in arms.

I have been going to Subic practically every weekend for the past 12 years, because of the clean air and the wonderful view of the bay where I live, though it is not so wonderful now, because there already is a humongous orange eyesore in the picture, thanks to the Hanjin gantries (the damned things are so large and so orange, they draw the eye like an evil attraction). If I look the other way, I see Grande Island and the site of the power plant, right in the middle of a beautiful view of beach and mountains. I am up in arms, too. Would they allow a coal plant to be built on Boracay?

George Lorenzana, owner of a resort and other business enterprises in Subic and a leader of the groups opposing the project, puts it very well: that power plant is an environmentally critical project in an environmentally critical area, within a global community. The SBFCC is more specific: the community is being saddled with an eyesore and a prime source of pollution—aside from the visual pollution, there is the air and water pollution from the burning of coal, the destruction of aquatic life and thermal pollution resulting from the discharging of water of extremely high temperatures into the bay (part of the process).

Miguel Aboitiz, representing the proponent, sent me a hard copy of the PowerPoint presentation of the background and environmental impact assessment summary during the public hearings. The plant, it says, will have “relatively lower NOx and SOx emissions,” “reasonable generation cost” and “contribute to the local economy and promote the domestic coal industry.” And then that exculpatory phrase: “the Philippines and other Third World countries are exempted from the Kyoto Protocol until 2012.” That plant will be there for the next 30-40 years.

Excuse me. Why settle for “lower” emissions of nitrous oxide (which as a greenhouse gas is 23 times more powerful than carbon dioxide, which is also emitted by a coal plant), and sulfur dioxide (the principal cause of acid rain), when you don’t need to have any emissions at all, if the plant were not there? A coal-fired power plant emits the worst kind of pollution.

And what constitutes “reasonable” generation costs? No one seems to have been told anything except that the costs will be lower.

With respect to contributions to the local economy, well, any project will contribute to the local economy. The question is, how many other jobs will it destroy because of the loss of tourism and the damage to the air and water environment?

And as to promoting the domestic coal industry, the Subic Bay Chamber of Commerce points out that, according to the project prospectus, the coal will come from Indonesia on a long-term contract.

This is a case where a cost-benefit analysis clearly shows that the economic and social costs of the plant outweigh the benefits. But even if the overriding concern is the need for more and cheaper (coal supposedly being cheaper) power, there is an alternative: to get the power from an existing coal-fired plant in Masinloc, Zambales, which has been privatized and is being expanded (additional 600 megawatts). Power expert Fidel Correa of the Zambales Electric Co. says that this is a technically and economically feasible alternative, without the environmental degrading and tourism discouraging effects of an SBMA plant.

But one problem remains: Aboitiz Power and the Taiwanese will be without a project. For Subic’s sake, that must be surmounted.

= = =

DENR issued ECC to Subic Coal Plant

Im very concerned re this coal plant. No enviroment report have been published or no public hearing have been done. Are the industry players free to do what they like. I also miss Richard & Bong Gordon view on the issue. Up to now, they have been mute. There are no known requirments to Aboitz, it just say SBMA will check rules and regulations.
When SBMA can not check their own vehicles for black smoke, we know there will be nothing done. Looks like SBMA present admin are not listening to the people. Majority of people dont want any coal plant here, so why is it not stopped.
SBMA should announce public hearing now. even when ECC is issued, its not to late.
By SubicBayNews Reader at 6/18/2008

= = =

email from Mr. Miguel Aboitiz (19 June 2008)

The article was very informative, but it contained a statement saying that the Subic coal plant was given an ECC by the DENR.

In reality the project has an ECC from SBMA, and is still in the process of obtaining an ECC from the DENR.

We expect the process to Finish before the end of this year.

miguel aboitiz

= = =

A serious comment...

POWER GENERATION through COAL is indeed one good way to lessen our dependency on oil. Our authorities should however consider the following fact:

- * Burning coal produces carbon dioxide (CO2), sulphur dioxide (SO2) and nitrogen oxides (NOx).
* These gases are vented from the boiler.

15 years ago, we dont buy water for drinking,we don't bother heat that much, weather is not as abnormal as it is today....

I hope before we support the COAL-fired power plant maisip muna natin.....15 years from NOW, baka pati hangin bilihin na na rin ng mga anak natin at baka ang shifting ng weather pattern maging per hour na o baka naman bawal na lumabas ng 8AM-4AM dahil sobra na ang init..

We take it so lightly and ignore the signs, the ave. temp of Subic during the Navy years is somewhere between 19-23..... ngayon the average is 26C to 32C, (the mere fact na JUNE na).

We don't even need to be an expert to see the signs.....Let us just be FACTUAL about this....ARE WE REALLY READY TO PUT OUR YOUNGER GENERATION's LIFE AT RISK???

Mario Esquillo
Council Scout Executive
James L. Gordon Council-BSP

By Mario Esquillo, at 6/19/2008

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  • Im not really an expert....but these informations has been thought to schools in Chemistry Classes since high school up to college....all written by experts.

    We listen to experts whenever we search for answers....A doctor if we are sick, a dentist if we have a tooth problem, a professional Driver to drive us, a barber to cut our hairs.... Now, why cant we listen to these experts view, since scientests are experts on this>>>

    According to scientific data> When NOx and volatile organic compounds (VOCs) react in the presence of sunlight, they form photochemical smog, a significant form of air pollution, especially in the summer. Children, people with lung diseases such as asthma, and people who work or exercise outside are susceptible to adverse effects of smog such as damage to lung tissue and reduction in lung function.

    We boast to promote Clean Air in our City, and we take pride of the beauty of nature in Subic Bay....

    Now for the Price of producing more electricity, we are closing our eyes to this reality..... We supported Clean-Air Act and now we are trashing it, and were even penalizing our motorists whenever they exceed the required limit during the emission test (We claim that we are doing this to clean our AIR... yet here we are, about to allow A COAL FIRED-POWER PLANT in the gateway of SUBIC BAY, a plant known to be a MAJOR contributor of harmful greenhouse gases, and eventually, the destruction of NATURE, simply because according to the proponent's presentation they are claiming that >>>"The plant, it says, will have “relatively lower NOx and SOx emissions,” “reasonable generation cost” and “contribute to the local economy and promote the domestic coal industry.”

    What about the KYOTO PROTOCOL....and the issue that we are exempted from it until 2012?

    Can we just ignore it just because we are a third world country??? I think we all deserve to be protected from the harmful effect of these gases the same way those who are living in the first world country. Our lives are as valuable as theirs and if its dangerous for them, it is also dangerous for us, with or without the Kyoto Protocol, is it not our obligation to ensure that our next generation will be safe from the ILL Effects of Global Warming???

    If we say yes to this Coal Fired plant today.....we might end-up saying sorry to our children after 10 to 20 years.....too late....

    Please let us not allow this to happen...

    Mario Esquillo
    Council Scout Executive
    James L. Gordon Council

    By Blogger Mario Esquillo, at 6/21/2008 11:09 PM  

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