Group calls on DTI, DENR to ditch dirty coal project

Following pull-out of major investor

Press release - March 28, 2001
The international environmental group Greenpeace today urged officials of the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) and the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) to immediately revoke the questionable permits issued by both agencies to the Pulupandan, Negros coal power plant, following the confirmed withdrawal of major corporate stakeholders in the consortium pushing for the construction of the controversial project.

The international environmental group Greenpeace today urged officials of the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) and the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) to immediately revoke the questionable permits issued by both agencies to the Pulupandan, Negros coal power plant, following the confirmed withdrawal of major corporate stakeholders in the consortium pushing for the construction of the controversial project.

"The erosion of investor confidence in this project, as evidenced by the Ogden pull-out, reaffirms what communities in Negros have been saying all this time - that this dirty power project is an unsound investment with no future. Now is the time for government to step in and start abiding by the demands of the people of Negros not to proceed with this pollutive investment," said Red Constantino, energy campaigner for Greenpeace Southeast Asia.

Prior to its pull-out, Ogden Energy represented 60 percent of the equity investments in the Central Negros Power Corporation (CNPC) consortium. Asea Brown Boveri (ABB) Ventures and Edison Global Inc. make up the remaining balance of 29 percent and 11 percent respectively. It was also reported earlier that ABB was also withdrawing from CNPC, leaving Edison holding the bag. Edison was involved last year in its own controversy owing to its lack of registration with the Securities and Exchange Commission.

The group reiterated its earlier demand for the DENR to withdraw the 'midnight' Environmental Compliance Certificate (ECC) issued by ex-DENR Secretary Antonio Cerilles to the coal fired-power project. Greenpeace also asked DTI officials to direct the Board of Investments (BOI) to recall the accreditation it gave to the consortium behind the power project.

BOI accreditation provides business groups pushing energy projects hefty tax incentives and tax holidays. According to Constantino, the consortium should never have gotten accreditation in the first place. The project completely lacks the three requirements stipulated by the BOI for favored energy investments, namely use of indigenous material, use of renewable energy sources and a standing accreditation with the Department of Energy (DOE). Coal is a non-renewable energy fuel. In addition, the Negros coal plant has repeatedly stated it will use 75 percent Australian coal, and CNPC's accreditation with the DOE had already expired in 1998 and has not been renewed since.

Ogden, re-registered as Covanta Energy this month, had issued an official statement last March 23 explaining that it had "elected to withdraw from participation in the [CNPC] consortium... [due to a] corporate-wide review and reprioritization of power development opportunities world-wide."

"We find Ogden's use of seven-syllable words like 'reprioritization' nothing more than drivel especially in the light of its global debacles. Ogden has been thrown out of dirty energy projects in West Bengal, Assam and Madhya Pradesh in India in December 2000 and early 2001," said Constantino. He added that "the government must learn from if not feed on the wisdom and courage displayed by the Negros communities in rejecting a risky and unsustainable proposition being peddled by profit driven corporations."

Recently, Senator Loren Legarda also called for the cancellation of the ECC and BOI accreditation stressing that "the withdrawal of... Ogden and ABB... serves as a warning to others who may wish to try to sell our god-given right to enjoy a healthy and clean environment."

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