Greenpeace urges Alvarez to block proposed exemptions to the Clean Air Act

Press release - April 11, 2001
The environmental action group Greenpeace today urged newly designated Environment Secretary Heherson Alvarez to remain firm in pushing for the implementation of the Clean Air Act (CAA) amid renewed efforts by the oil industry and the Department of Energy (DOE) to have the measure postponed or to exempt certain sectors from the coverage of the law.

The environmental action group Greenpeace today urged newly designated Environment Secretary Heherson Alvarez to remain firm in pushing for the implementation of the Clean Air Act (CAA) amid renewed efforts by the oil industry and the Department of Energy (DOE) to have the measure postponed or to exempt certain sectors from the coverage of the law.

DOE Secretary Jose Antonio Camacho announced last week that his Department will seek to exempt certain NAPOCOR plants from meeting emission standards as well as postpone the scheduled progressive reduction of aromatics and pollutants in petroleum products as mandated by the CAA. Camacho further warned of a possible increase in pump prices for diesel by up to P.60 per liter, P2.00 per liter for gasoline, and P.50 to P.90 centavo increase per kilowatt-hour, should the measure be implemented.

"The Clean Air Act is a measure that seeks to reduce and eliminate the levels of pollutants in the air, no two thoughts about that. While clean air does not come cheap, the burden of cleansing the air we breathe should not be passed on to the public who for the longest time have absorbed the public health and environmental consequences of a polluted metropolis. Postponing the implementation of the CAA, serves the interest of polluting industries and oil companies, not the interest of the public, " according to Francis de la Cruz, Toxics Campaigner for Greenpeace Southeast Asia.

The DOE cites studies made by the Asian Development Bank which indicate a higher price for goods and services to cover the costs of retrofitting power plants with pollution mitigation devices and the installation of new equipment and systems for petroleum refineries to meet the fuel standards of the CAA.

"It's high time for industries, especially the guilty ones, to take responsibility. Power and oil companies have no right to pollute the air we breathe. Instead of penalizing them for their dirty practices, government wants to reward them now by kowtowing to their demands and agreeing to transmit the burden of their dirty products and processes to the public. These industries should internalize these costs from the very beginning," said de la Cruz.

"We ask Secretary Alvarez to face up to this industry challenge and uphold public interest. Further postponement of the Clean Air Act's implementation is a bad indicator for governance and is definitely bad for the environment," he added.

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