Local groups in this province, considered as the surfing capital of the North, came together this weekend to join their voices to the growing number of communities around the world calling to #breakfree from fossil fuels. The groups are opposing a proposal to put up a 670-megawatt coal-fired power plant in the town of Luna. The proposal threatens not only the environmental stability of this picturesque province but also the health and livelihoods of the communities that rely on a burgeoning tourism industry.
Led by the Koalisyon Isalbar Ti Pintas Ti La Union (Coalition to Save the Beauty of La Union) and the Coal-Free La Union, and joined by Greenpeace Philippines, the groups are composed of seaside communities, surfing instructors and enthusiasts, divers, government employees, tourism agents, resort owners, educators, church officials and NGO workers.
“We need to preserve the natural beauty and health of La Union. Our beaches, way of life and our environment drive our livelihoods and our identity. The proposed coal plant will not enhance our lives but it will instead make it more difficult. . We don’t want a coal plant constructed in our home,” said Cris Palabay, chairperson of Koalisyon Isalbar Ti Pintas Ti La Union.
The groups staged a Break Free Parade and Program last Friday, July 13, marching barefoot along the main highway from the UCCP Walkway to the San Fernando Town Plaza, to dramatize “the need for the people to connect and feel what is happening in La Union.” Yesterday, July 14, the groups staged a Break Free Sustainability Fair in San Juan, featuring a surf clinic; talks on environment, tourism and renewable energy; acoustic performances; and a special advanced screening of the short film, Before We Disappear, starring Carla Humphries, Alex Medina and Joel Torre.
The proposed plant, belonging to the Global Luzon Energy Development Corporation, is scheduled to be operational by 2020. But locals are urging provincial officials to sack the proposal and look to more sustainable, cost-effective options instead.
“There is little to no benefit from coal and everyone in La Union will be affected by it. The proposed coal plant will only threaten the environment, the people’s health and even their local economy. La Union should consider the least cost option for energy generation and focus on harnessing cleaner and renewable energy. There is no place for coal In a paradise like La Union, the people deserve better. ” said Khevin Yu, climate and energy campaigner of Greenpeace Philippines.