THE Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), which is currently auditing mining operations in the country for environmental compliance, will soon start also auditing coal-fired power plants to determine if they posed any danger to the environment.
Coal accounts for about a third of the country’s current energy mix with 13 coal-fired power plants currently in operation and 12 under construction. Besides, 13 applications for coal-fired plants are in process.
All of them will be subject to audit, said Environment Undersecretary Leo Jasareno
According to Jasareno, the guidelines and criteria for the audit centered on compliance with the terms of the Environmental Compliance Certificate (ECC) are currently being finalized.
“We’ll start to audit coal fired power plants…within this month,” Jasareno told reporters.
Applications for building power plants are handled by the Department of Energy. However, all power plants need to obtain an Environmental Compliance Certificate from the DENR for their operation.
Following Regina Paz Lopez launching a rigorous environmental safety program as soon as President Rodrigo Duterte named her DENR secretary, industry experts had warned that coal power plant projects could expect a rough ride, as they will have to comply with very stringent requirements.
Lopez had said that under her watch, the country will move towards shifting to renewable energy and it will be used as based load power.
Jasareno also spoke of the ongoing audit of mines. The audit of 40 operating metallic mines is expected to complete within this month, and every miner that complies with the required safety regulations will be labeled as “responsible miner”.
“When the smoke clears, after the review, what we will have is a roster of responsible miners,” Jasareno said.
Anyone ordered to suspend operations can appeal for a review or simply comply with the requirements to be able to operate again.
“Suspension is not something permanent. They just have to meet the requirements,” he said.
Since starting the review on July 8, the DENR has suspended 10 mining operations of which 8 were nickel producers, accounting to about 8 percent of the country’s total nickel output.