Dozens of environmental groups yesterday called on the Environmental Protection Administration’s (EPA) environmental impact assessment (EIA) panel to avoid expediting the passing of major development proposals today during its last meeting before the panel members’ term ends on Friday.
Ten proposals — including controversial plans such as Taipei County’s Sinjhuang / Lujhou MRT Line and Taipower’s Dalin (大林) Power Plant expansion — are scheduled to be reviewed today. Environmental activists say they fear the committee will not have enough time to review each case carefully.
“Just as the World Games showed the world how beautiful Kaohsiung is, Taipower is planning to expand Dalin from a single coal-burning generator plant to one that uses four generators,” said Mercy on the Earth Taiwan director Lee Ken-cheng (李根政), a former member of the environmental impact assessment committee.
Altogether, the additional generators will “burn 8.4 million tonnes of coal and affect the health of the 1.52 million residents of Kaohsiung,” Lee said.
Lee said the EPA must realize that “the lungs of Kaohsiung residents are not air-purifiers” and that seeing a reduction in the plant’s carbon emission was the desire of the majority of people.
Residents of Sinjhuang and Lujhou said they would stage a protest in front of the EPA today to urge the panelists to safeguard their homes and tax dollars.
“This is a major construction project that will have a serious environmental impact in the community. A lot of money is going to be spent on the project if it is allowed to proceed,” a residents’ representative surnamed Huang said.
“We are not opposed to the project per se, but we want to make sure that the EIA panelists give it a fair and careful review,” he said.
Meanwhile, Kaohsiung Mayor Chen Chu (陳菊) yesterday expressed her objections to the proposed expansion of the Dalin plant.
After the city government’s weekly meeting, Chen said the power plant could generate serious pollution in the city if it were allowed to expand from a single coal-burning generator operation into a four-generator plant.
Saying that the city had transformed itself into a urban center emphasizing ecology and sustainability, Chen said the company’s plan could lead to “inequitable regional development” in Taiwan.
“Why does the plant need to generate electricity by burning coal in Kaohsiung while central and northern Taiwan use natural gas?” Chen said. “Kaohsiung does not suffer power shortages. The plant generates electricity to support households in northern Taiwan.”
Chen said that Deputy Kaohsiung Mayor Lee Yung-te (李永得), officials at the city’s Environmental Protection Bureau and local environmental protection activists would attend the meetings today to express the city government’s position on the matter.
On June 9 last year — its first meeting after the inauguration of the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) administration — the EIA said that Taipower should focus on reducing carbon emissions.