Premier William Lai’s (賴清德) flip-flopping on the planned coal-fired Shenao Power Plant project shows that the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) administration is not taking its energy policy seriously, the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) said yesterday, urging voters to teach the DPP a lesson at the polls on Nov. 24.
“With merely 40 days left before the elections, Lai’s decision to suspend the Shenao project is not only clearly the result of electoral calculations, but is also a slap in his own face,” KMT Culture and Communications Committee deputy director-general Hung Meng-kai (洪孟楷) said in a statement.
Lai yesterday told a plenary legislative session that as the third liquefied natural gas (LNG) terminal in Taoyuan’s Guantang Industrial Park (觀塘工業區) would generate sufficient energy after its completion, he would back the Ministry of Economic Affairs’ decision to halt the Shenao project.
Photo: Liu Hsin-de, Taipei Times
Since March, Lai has repeatedly stressed the necessity of building the Shenao plant in New Taipei City’s Rueifang District (瑞芳), even saying that the plant would be using “clean coal,” Hung said, adding that it made his U-turn all the more preposterous.
“This shows that [President] Tsai Ing-wen’s (蔡英文) administration is treating its energy policy as a trifling matter and everything is about elections,” Hung said. “How could the public have faith in this kind of government?”
As the Tsai administration is likely to change its policy again after the nine-in-one elections, the public should teach the DPP a lesson by voting in support of a referendum opposing the plant initiated by the KMT, Hung said.
KMT Legislator Lin Te-fu (林德福) launched a referendum drive asking: “Do you agree with the implementation of an energy policy that halts the construction and expansion of any coal-fired power plants or generators (including the Shenao Power Plant upgrade project)?”
The referendum is to be held alongside the elections after it managed to collect 313,165 valid signatures, more than the second-phase threshold of 281,745 signatures.
Under the Referendum Act (公民投票法), for a referendum to pass, at least one-quarter of the 19.79 million eligible voters must cast an affirmative vote and “yes” votes must outnumber “no” votes.
The KMT legislative caucus also attacked the DPP administration, saying that its energy policy is “fraudulent.”
The government’s backtracking on the Shenao plant issue shows that it uses energy policy for politicking, the lawmakers added.
Lai in March vigorously defended the Shenao plant, saying that it would run on “clean coal,” as it would be equipped with supercritical steam generators, bringing its emissions down to the level of a gas-fired power plant, KMT caucus secretary-general William Tseng (曾銘宗) said.
Although the scope of development for the LNG terminal has been reduced from 232 hectares to 23 hectares, a proposed industrial harbor that is part of the project would still destroy the ecologically precious algal reefs in the waters off Taoyuan’s Guanyin (觀音) and Sinwu (新屋) districts, KMT caucus deputy secretary-general Ko Chih-en (柯志恩) said.
Additional reporting by Sean Lin
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