The Supreme Court has been asked to stop the government from issuing new permits for the construction and operation of coal-fired power plants until a review and revision of air quality monitoring standards are threshed out.
In a 64-page petition, several environmental groups headed by the Philippine Movement for Climate Justice and the Philippine Earth Justice Center, Inc. pleaded for SC’s intervention to compel the Department of Environment and Natural Resources and the Department of Energy to enforce the environmental laws and to carry out their duty as vanguards of energy security and environmental sustainability.
Aside from PMCJ, the other petitioners include Toribio R. Ortega Jr., Nestorio A. Castro, Rosalina R. Aritmetica, Cheryl L. Magracia, Environmental Legal Assistance Center Inc., SANLAKAS, Inc., and Philippine Earth Justice Center, Inc.
The petitioners asked the SC to issue a temporary environmental protection order enjoining the DENR and the DoE from processing environment clearance certificate applications for coal-fired power plants and issuing authority to construct and permit to operate coal plants.
They also appealed to the high court to require the DENR to “immediately review or revise” ambient air quality guideline values, emission standards for stationary sources, and effluent standards; disclose the coal plant companies operating without Continuous Emission Monitoring System and Continuous Emission Opacity Systems as required by the Clean Air Act.
The green groups also underscored the need for the tribunal to compel the DENR to install proper ambient air monitoring equipment and delineate and designate attainment and non-attainment areas, at least in areas with existing and proposed coal plants, and for the DoE to issue the Renewable Portfolio Standards (RPS) Rules and establish the Green Energy Options Program.
The groups insisted that the DoE reduce its dependence on fossil fuels and comply with the Philippines’ commitments under the Paris Climate Change Agreement.
They added that data from the DoE showed that coal share in the country’s energy mix has almost doubled, from 25.9 percent in 2008 to 47.7 percent in 2016, despite the passage of the Renewable Energy Act (Republic Act 9513) in 2008.
“As a direct result of the failure of DENR and DoE to do their duties specifically enjoined by law and their respective offices, the country has had to rely on dirty energy generated by coal plants that have been operating without proper standards, without accountability, and without regard to their adverse impact on the environment and the people’s health,” said the petitioners represented by lawyers led by Jose Manuel Diokno.
“Unless this Honorable Court intervenes, the Philippines will be locked into costly and harmful coal contracts for generations to come, despite the existence of renewable energy that is cleaner, cheaper and better,” they said.
Named respondents in the petition were Environment Secretary Roy Cimatu and Energy Secretary Alfonso Cusi.