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Coal Fired Power Plant a Grave Threat

(Fr. Shay's columns are published in The Manila Times, in publications in Ireland, the UK, Hong Kong, and on-line.)

The forests of South East Asia are under intense deforestation and recently we heard the dire warnings that the world is presently loosing 13 million hectares of forest every year. That means less Oxygen and more CO2 in the atmosphere.

Huge concentrations of CO2 and gasses will be released into the pristine air over Subic Bay if and when construction of a coal fired power plant on scenic Subic Bay is completed. This has to be opposed to protect the people, the forests, and the bio-diversity of forest life. Soon the tourists and employees and residents of Olongapo City will be choking on the smell of sulphur and fumes (deadly Nitrous Oxide) belching from tall unsightly smoke stacks that will scar the skyline and blur the sunrise and sunsets in a toxic haze. Coal fired plants are the greatest polluters of all that produces sulfur dioxide emissions that makes acid rain that destroys the forests and turns the sea into acidic that the fish can’t breed.

It is no wonder that with the billions of tons of CO2 and other greenhouse gasses that are spewed out daily by uncaring and profit driven industry and we the human species, the ones with the intelligence, are causing the global climate to change drastically with grave consequences for all mankind and all species. We have to oppose such disastrous projects like the ‘Redondo Peninsula power plant’.

Deforestation and pollution are the main culprits for the extinction of millions of life forms in the past fifty years. All this damage is driven by the greed of the irresponsible rich. The trees and plants that give us oxygen to live are under grave threat by us that depend on them to survive. We are poisoning ourselves. The greatest sin of this generation is its neglect and destruction of God’s creation.

Last week in Manila, Dr. Ahmed Djoghlaf, Executive Secretary of the United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) made a plea to the regions political leaders to stop the destruction of the forests. 80 percent of the planets bio-diversity is in the tropical rain forests, he said. "What is lost in the Philippines, what is lost in the Asian is lost for the world”. According to one study the Philippines had 90% of its territory covered with tropical forest in 1911 today it has been reduced to a mere 19% and this is diminishing daily with the law being flouted and ignored and corrupt politicians and business cronies enriching themselves.

The Redondo Peninsula project is to be a 300 megawatt coal fired power plant 50% owned by the Aboitiz Power Corporation through the Redondo Peninsula Energy, Inc. the other 50% is a Taiwanese corporation. It may be just one more filthy business enterprise that could be allegedly riddled with corrupt dealing. The regional office of the Department of the Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) has been bypassed because it vehemently opposed the project and will not issue Environmental Compliance certificate. Local government and civil society and the general public of the nearby towns and provinces are totally against it. It is being imposed without consent amid mounting opposition and allegations that the Aboitiz family is misusing its ties to the president of the Philippines, Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo and her husband Miguel.

Erramon I. Aboitiz, president and chief executive officer of Aboitiz Power Corp., when asked about his family’s relationship with President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo and First Gentleman Jose Miguel Arroyo said "We are friends but, you know, I don't think it's fair to say that we benefited from it. It's not correct to say that we benefited,"

We hope that Senator Richard Gordon, former chairman of the Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority, and chairman of the Senate committee on energy a self-proclaimed conservationist will oppose it also. We need legislation mandating that only non-polluting energy, wind turbines and solar powered plants be built as a priority. The side of the Redondo Peninsula facing the South China sea is ideal for wind turbines. Out of sight and in full face of the ocean winds 15 would provide all the power needed. The alternative to polluting coal fired plants has to be found and implemented. END