Press Release
August 18, 2009

Loren urges shift to cleaner, greener fuel in lieu of coal

Senator Loren Legarda cited today the urgent need for the Philippines to shift to cleaner energy sources instead of shooting for a yearly increase of 11.7 percent in the production of coal, a highly polluting fuel source blamed for 30,000 deaths in the United States each year.

Founder and chair of the environment group Luntiang Pilipinas, Loren issued the statement in view of the strong opposition expressed by the church to a planby a company to extract coal worth P6.2 billion in Catanduanes.

"The operation of this coal mine would be a double blackeye to the environment as it would increase our carbon emission while decimating trees and foliage in an area of 7,000 hectares," said Loren.

"Not only would our carbon footprint increase, but the loss of trees and greeneries in the affected areas, said to be three times the size of Makati City, would further reduce forest cover which helps fight air pollution," she explained.

Loren said that while coal-related air pollution data in the Philippines is wanting, in the US coal-fired power plants are blamed for contributing a whopping 59 percent of total sulfur dioxide and 18 percent of nitrogen oxide air pollutants.

She said that the 30,000 annual deaths in the US cited by the international Clean Air Task Force dwarf the average of 16,000 Americans who die each year from drunken driving and the 17,000 more who fall victim to homicides.

Loren pointed out that producing clean energy from wind, water and other renewable power sources must be the priority of the government because they are not only sustainable, but they also lessen the country's dependence on so-called dirty energy like coal and oil.

She noted that Philippine coal production, based on a FAQ by the Department of Energy, has been increasing through the years, from two (2) million metric tons (MMMT) in 2003 to 2.7 MMMT in 2004 and 3.1 MMMT in 2005.

Experts say that coal-fired power plants are also the largest polluter of toxic mercury pollution, largest contributor of hazardous air toxics, and release about 50 percent of particle pollution.

Likewise, power plants release over 40 percent of total US carbon dioxide emissions, a prime contributor to global warming.

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