2 more La Union towns ban coal

MANILA, Philippines – Two more municipalities in the province of La Union are now coal-free.

Like San Juan, the towns of Aringay and San Gabriel have banned coal in their municipalities through a resolution.

Resolution No. 2019-41 declared and adopted the municipality of Aringay as an environment-friendly, coal-free, and clean, renewable energy municipality and banned the construction, development, and operation of coal-fired power plants in this town. Resolution No. 48-2019 of San Gabriel, meanwhile, opposed the construction of a coal-fired power plant in Luna, La Union and other municipalities in the province.

San Gabriel Mayor Herminigildo Velasco said the intention of the resolution is “to build up a strong advocacy in opposing energy sources like coal because these are proven hazardous to the environment and human life.”

According to him, the toxic emissions of a coal plant is carried through the air, threatening not only the locality hosting it but also the wide areas of La Union including San Gabriel.

The town is within the 50-kilometer radius direct impact area, and home to some of the agri-tourism assets of this province, like Tangadan Falls and Baroro River, which has boating and farm resorts.

Mayor Velasco said that “as entrusted leaders, we have the responsibility to promote a healthy and safe environment for present population and our future generation.”

Transboundary responsibility

He added that, should be entities/groups who cannot protect their own environment, we can ask at the least for them not to damage the environment of neighboring localities/municipalities. Thus, the resolution.

The mayor cited the “Transboundary Responsibility” as the motivation of the resolution. It is defined in international law “as an obligation to protect one’s own environment and to prevent damage to neighboring environment.”

He said that while they’re aware that San Gabriel cannot impose on other municipalities, it doesn’t mean that they will not speak their mind on something that poses a threat to the environment and imperil human lives.

Still, he challenged his fellow leaders to be steadfast in implementing our environmental laws.

Impacts on San Gabriel

In the Findings and Comments on Global Luzon Energy Development Corporation (GLEDC) documents, the SAVE LUNA (Support and Advocate Valiantly for the Environment of Luna) Technical Review Panel mentioned there were tigergrass fields in San Gabriel. These plants help combat soil erosion, especially in areas where there are no trees. In Pampanga, it helps sustain lahar community livelihoods via broom-making.

Moreover, the review mentioned the Lon-Oy Spring is one of the [two] main sources of water supply of the San Fernando Metro Water District (SFMWD).

Bob Nebrida, a biosystems and agriculture engineer, said almost 50% of the water supply of the SFMWD is sourced from this area, adding that the town is merely about 15-25 aerial km.

“Among others, acid rain (which is a harmful effect of burning fossil fuels) causes trees to dry up and die, thereby destroying the watershed and eventually the springs to dry out,” he said.

Acidic water is also toxic to aquatic species like fish and clams, which others throughout the food chain – including humans – depend on and as a result can also be affected.

Imagine the locals eating toxic seafood and inhaling air pollution coming from a coal plant?

The town of San Gabriel doesn’t want that. – Rappler.com