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After San Juan, another La Union town bans coal-fired power plant

ARINGAY, LA UNION — The town council here has banned the construction, development, and operation of a coal-fired power plant, making this coastal town the second in La Union province to make the prohibition after the surfing capital, San Juan.

“We basically adopted the resolution passed by San Juan [town council],” said Councilor Rachell Martinez, the principal sponsor of the resolution unanimously approved during the council’s regular session on March 20.

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On March 11, San Juan closed the town to coal-fired power plants in a bid to preserve biodiversity and protect the health of residents.

Both councils said such power plants had been proven to produce hazardous pollutants that destroy the environment and affect people’s health and livelihood.

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Officials of the two towns also called on other local governments in the province to adopt the same declaration “for the protection and conservation of the environment” and prevention of health hazards.

Martinez said the declaration was their contribution to calls to make a “Coal-free La Union.”

Since 2017, residents, led by the Koalisyon Isalbar ti Pintas ti La Union (Coalition to Save the Beauty of La Union), had been opposing the P80-billion, 670-megawatt power plant project proposed by the Global Luzon Energy Development Corp., in the coastal villages of Carisquis and Nalvo Sur in Luna town.

The Department of Environment and Natural Resources had issued an environmental compliance certificate for the project.

Martinez said although her town is 60 kilometers south of Luna, it would still be directly affected by the proposed plant because they share the same coastline.

Based on 2015 data from the Philippine Statistics Authority, Aringay had a population of 47,458 people.

“We are in a coastal area and we are also an agricultural town. We are within the radius of the areas that could be affected by the coal-fired plant,” Martinez said.

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In a manifesto read in all Masses in the province last month, San Fernando Bishop Daniel Presto called on the government to drop its plan to build the Luna plant.

Presto said the temporary economic benefits from the operation of the power plants were “not acceptable trade-offs for long-term degradation of the environment.”

In January, a group of surfers belonging to the Manila Surfers Association,  staged a protest action to express its support to La Union people’s opposition to the proposed plant. 

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