Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) presidential contender Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) released her first major policy initiative yesterday, saying she intended to phase out operations of the Fourth Nuclear Power Plant.
Tsai’s policy would reverse the government’s long-term plan of relying more on nuclear energy to meet its target reductions in greenhouse emissions. It reflects heightened concerns about the industry among DPP politicians amid the ongoing nuclear crisis in Japan.
The NT$273.5 billion (US$9.2 billion) project on the outskirts of New Taipei City has already been beset by delays and cost overruns, some of them arising from the one-year moratorium on construction imposed by former president Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) in 2000.
Tsai said the nuclear power plant posed unacceptable risks in light of the near nuclear meltdown in Japan, which has released harmful radioactive material into the air.
A similar situation in Taiwan would have “disastrous consequences,” she said.
“The [nuclear] disaster in Japan revealed the very serious safety problems associated with nuclear energy. In light of this, the government should re-examine, reassess and reconsider” the nuclear industry, she said.
Under the plan, Taiwan would aim to phase out nuclear energy by 2025, if not sooner, pending the development of other energy sources. On top of stopping operations of the Fourth Nuclear Power Plant, existing nuclear plants one, two and three would be decommissioned on schedule, between 2019 and 2025.
Statistics from the Bureau of Energy show that Taiwan’s three operational nuclear power plants last year generated about 19.3 percent of the nation’s energy.
Tsai said this number could be offset by generating more renewable energy, increasing efficiency of current coal-fired plants and building new natural gas plants. Together, those measures could increase power capacity by about 10 percent, she said.
With Taiwan’s reserve power margins standing at 23.4 percent last year, well above the 15 percent she said was necessary to avoid blackouts, the developments could “steer Taiwan to a nuclear-free society without making compromises,” Tsai said.
Choosing to tackle nuclear energy as part of her first policy announcement is a risky move for Tsai, who has spoken out against the industry in the past. An election promise by Chen to nix the Fourth Nuclear Power Plant backfired when later polls showed a majority were opposed to the plan.
Chen was forced to restart construction in 2001 because of public pressure.
Tsai stopped short of promising to immediately call a halt to the operations of the Fourth Nuclear Power Plant, with its two reactors expected to come online between next year and 2013, but said that “this is what I am aiming toward.” She also said she believed a nationwide referendum on the issue was not necessary.
DPP caucus leaders, who hold 33 of 113 legislative seats, have already expressed support for a similar proposal.
Earlier yesterday, DPP lawmakers suggested that phasing out the NT$273.5 billion project was necessary in the interests of long-term public safety. The lawmakers said they would back plans to increase subsidies to develop renewable energy, calling northern European countries examples Taiwan should follow.
“We would rather have our [government] spend some more money instead of one day suffering the same disaster Japan did,” DPP Legislator Gao Jyh-peng (高志鵬) said.
Swedish Member of Parliament Hampus Hagman is pushing for changing the name of the nation’s trade office in Taipei to signal improved relations with “Asia’s perhaps foremost democracy.” Hagman on Wednesday last week proposed renaming the Swedish Trade and Invest Council to “Sweden’s Office in Taipei,” following similar changes by other nations. The Swedish Trade and Invest Council, part of Business Sweden, is owned by the Swedish government and Swedish industry. Taiwan and Sweden share important values such as respect for democracy, human rights, the rule of law and freedom of speech, Hagman said in the motion, adding that the two nations
TWO CASES: The five allegedly conspired with conglomerates, threatening the nation’s governance and subverting the rules of ethical conduct, a deputy chief prosecutor said Taipei prosecutors yesterday charged three legislators and one former lawmaker with contravening the Anti-Corruption Act (貪污治罪條例) in a case linked to former Pacific Distribution Investment Co (太平洋流通) chairman Lee Heng-lung’s (李恆隆) battle with the Far Eastern Group (遠東集團) over ownership of the Pacific SOGO Department Store (太平洋崇光百貨) chain, while independent Legislator Chao Cheng-yu (趙正宇) was indicted in a separate case involving two funeral services companies and a plot of land in a national park. Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) legislators Chen Chao-ming (陳超明) and Sufin Siluko (廖國棟), Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Legislator Su Chen-ching (蘇震清) and former New Power Party legislator
PENGHU INSPECTION: Taiwan cannot let its enemies strut around in its airspace, Tsai said, one day after a Chinese spokesman denied a median line exists in the Taiwan Strait Following China’s assertion on Monday that there is no “median line” in the Taiwan Strait, President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) yesterday pledged to defend the nation’s airspace during a visit to an air force base in Penghu, saying that Taiwan cannot allow others to flex their military muscle in its territorial airspace. Tsai praised the “heroic performance” of the pilots of the Indigenous Defense Fighters who have been intercepting Chinese People’s Liberation Army Air Force planes in recent days. “I have a lot of confidence in you. As soldiers of the Republic of China [ROC], how could we let enemies strut
EFFICIENCY: The rules for Philippine arrivals were revised after 17.6% of arrivals with symptoms tested positive, compared with 0.7% of those with no symptoms Starting today, Chinese spouses who hold a reunion permit can apply to enter Taiwan and travelers without symptoms from the Philippines do not need to be tested for COVID-19 upon arrival, but are to be tested after a 14-day quarantine, the Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) said yesterday. Minister of Health and Welfare Chen Shih-chung (陳時中), who heads the center, said that from today, Chinese who are married to a Taiwanese citizen and hold a reunion permit can apply to the National Immigration Agency for entry into Taiwan. Chinese who are married to a foreign national and hold an accompanied reunion permit