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Kamayan para sa Kalikasan

  222nd

monthly

session

 

 J O U R N A L

    THE WEBSITE VERSION  

    POST YOUR COMMENTS OR QUESTIONS AT THE BOTTOM

78th Issue

August 2008

 
     


 FORUM OVERVIEW (click here)    MAIN NEWS SECTION (right below)   OTHER SECTIONS (click here)

All landfills harm the environment. Now, a big landfill is to be built for a power plant in Montalban. And the plant may end up like many other expensive government-abetted project... useless, to say the least!

 FORUM ECHOES           
'Save the Thousands
of Trees, Forest!'

THE QUESTIONS posed on the representative of the PNOC-EDC were sharply clear. "Is your firm a government corporation or a private one, considering the hyphenated name? What is going to happen to the trees that you will cut?"

   The answers from Rei Medrano, corporate social responsibility manager, were far from clear. His power-point presentation left more questions than answers.

(full story below)

 FORUM FOCUS         
A Setback for Gains in Eco-Waste Education

 Methane Power Plant

to be a 'White Elephant'?

THIS MAY GO THE WAY of many other megaprojects of the succession of ruling administrations in the Philippines --- becoming a very expensive but useless, even destructive, "white elephant,"  To be sure, the P33-M power plant to be built in Montalban town in northeastern Rizal is being projected to produce much electricity from garbage.  That sounds like a solution to two major problems-- but it is too simplistic to be truly a net boon to those problems; it is expected to actually create more problems, especially in the long run, than it promises to solve.  To produce the amount of megawatts it has to be well fed with garbage and very efficiently run.

 

(full story below)

 

OTHER SECTIONS:

EDITORIALS: 

 


BOXED FEATURE:

Energy from Waste: Wrong Move, Wrong Reason, Wrong Endorsement

Observing TROs on Health & Environment

Montalban Methane Plant Criticized


FOOTER QUOTE:

     “I gully support the pursuit of alternative sources of energy, including geotherman energy. Such pursuit, however, should not be at the expense of the environment and in violation of existing laws "

          -– SEN. PIA CAYETANO, chair, Senate committee on the environment

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This century-old tree, along with thousands of others, cries out for help from humans who ought to have the wisdom to let the trees be, or at least the capability to protect them from the chainsaws of greed.  Negros folks have brought back and displayed yellow ribbons, reminding us all of what the people had used to protest the killing of opposition leader ex-Senator Benigno S. Aquino, Jr., this same month 22 years ago. [GREENWATCH FOTO]


  EDITORIALS     

 Energy from Waste: Wrong Move,
Wrong Reason, Wrong Endorsement

THE MONTALBAN Landfill Methane Recovery and Electricity Generation Project in Rodriguez (formerly Montalban), Rizal, was recently inaugurated by President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.  It is called landfill-gas-to-energy (FFGTE) technology GMA endorsed it as a "model solution" to climate change and renewable energy source.

Really??  The collective eyebrows of members at Ecological Waste Management (Eco-Waste) Coalition rise perplexed.  Eco-Waste reminds us that landfills create enormous volumes of methane, and are thus the most significant anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions.

Methane is a global warming gas that has 23 times the warming potential of carbon dioxide.  Because LFGTE systems have inbuilt inefficiencies, they fail to capture all the methane produced and do not necessarily prevent substantial discharge of methane into the atmosphere.  So how can landfill-gas-to-energy possibly be a model solution to climate change?

Running the LFGTE facility will require maintaining a certain volume of waste so the required methane output can be sustained.  This means continuous dumping of waste in ever larger quantities.  Will it now be our civic duty to keep producing garbage?  Will they pass an ordinance that will set a quota for communities, with penalty for those who fall short?  What happens if the productive use of organic wastes becomes more profitable than merely dumping them?  Will there be enough garbage then to feed the facility?  Will the Montalban Methanne Power Corporation buy all out garbage? Unlikely, di ba?  Honestly, can LFGTE technology be deemed a renewable energy source?

The LFGTE technology feeds on a wasteful pattern of disposing organic materials into dumpsites.  These organic materials could be better used by composting them into effective and safe soil nutrients that can help restore depleted farmlands.  They would also keep farmers from being dependent on chemical farm products, such as toxic fertilizers.  Dumping is both wasteful and destructive.

With the push for the so-called 'energy from waste,' we will see no end to dumping since there is now a purported use for landfills.  What happens to our laws requiring segregation and 'zero-waste'?  Ibabasura na lang ba natin ang Clean Air Act? Are we not risking global climate disaster in exchange for an unsustainable energy source?  (A.C.)

top


Second Editorial
Observing TROs on Health & Environment

THE SAUCE for the gander is the sauce for the goose, and the logic of the law, or at least of jurisprudence that backstops the spirit and letter of the law, ought to have logical consistency to it.  This makes us search for logic in a pair of temporary injunctions by two courts operating in the same one country -- ours.

The Court of Appeals was swift in issuing an injunction against the implementation of Davao City's ordinance banning the aerial  spraying of pesticides on banana plantations and on people because the banana plantation owners were so inconvenienced by that ban which the communities adversely affected by the spraying had earlier successfully asked City Hall for.

So, while the Appellate Court deliberated on whether the Davao Regional Trial Court had really erred in upholding the city ordinance, the ban had to be ordered lifted, at least temporarily, by the CA.  The issuance of injunction had to be swift.

Meanwhile, oppositors of a then-impending massacre of trees in a "buffer zone" of the Mt. Kanlaon protected area sought a TRO from the Bacolod RTC.  The court set the hearing -- on whether or not to issue a TRO -- for about four weeks later, allegedly due to paperwork considerations, and about 2,000 trees were killed in the interim by PNOC-EDC seeking to pursue their search for a lot of hot air.  That was about half the number of trees the oppositors had wanted to save in the first place.

on the date set, what came out was an announced postponement of the hearing to early September.  Without a TRO, the steam hunters could finish off the other half.  After the trees shall have been cut, no TRO will be issued because the petition shall have become moot and academic.  Mourn the unrestorable lives of the massacred trees, and prepare to mourn our lives --- we're next.

If you can discern any logic behind the obvious inconsistency, please tell us.  We just can't help but be curious.  (D.R.)


      top

  FORUM FOCUS         

A Setback for Gains in Eco-Waste Education 

Methane Power Plant

to be a 'White Elephant'?

THIS MAY GO THE WAY of many other megaprojects of the succession of ruling administrations in the Philippines --- becoming a very expensive but useless, even destructive, "white elephant,"  To be sure, the P33-M power plant to be built in Montalban town in northeastern Rizal is being projected to produce much electricity from garbage.  That sounds like a solution to two major problems-- but it is too simplistic to be truly a net boon to those problems; it is expected to actually create more problems, especially in the long run, than it promises to solve.  To produce the amount of megawatts it has to be well fed with garbage and very efficiently run.

More importantly, as the Ecological Waste Management (Eco-Waste) Coalition secretary Raul Hidalgo has warned, the collection and storage of a big volume of decaying materials, instead of this being immediately segregated at source and composted at source, runs the risk of larger amounts of methane, a greenhouse gas, being released into the atmosphere. Methane has 23 times more than the warming potential of carbon dioxide. 

The organizers of the 18-year-old Kamayan para sa Kalikasan monthly environmental forum decided to focus on this topic the forum's 222nd session, on August 15.  Invited to speak were leading resource persons from Eco-Waste, including Dr. Helen N. Mendoza and Rei Panaligan, as well as Sonia Mendoza, chair of the Mother Earth Foundation.  Also invited were Montalban Methane Power Corporation executive vice president Danilo Cantiller, and also Hanniel Fernandez of the same firm, project holder for the Montalban Landfill Methane Recovery and Electricity Generation Project, in historic Montalban town now official called Rodriguez.  Cantiller answered our invitation with regrets that he would be out of town on the forum date. The lead organizer wrote back to ask for an official handout or statement, but got no reply,

Kamayan para sa Kalikasan  is an 18-year-old monthly forum held at the Kamayan Restaurant, EDSA (near Ortigas ave.), Mandaluyong City, on the third Friday of every month from 10:30 am to 2 pm, through free lunch served by Kamayan-EDSA, its full sponsor since March 1990.


top

  FORUM ECHOES           

Echoes From July Forum  

'Save the Thousands of Trees, Forest!'

THE QUESTIONS posed on the representative of the PNOC-EDC were sharply clear. "Is your firm a government corporation or a private one, considering the hyphenated name? What are going to happen to the trees that you will cut?"

The answers from Rei Medrano, corporate social responsibility manager, were far from clear. His power-point presentation left more questions than answers.

But what was more important in the minds of most forum participants was serious concern for the fate of some 4,000 trees in a so-called "buffers" of the protected area, including centuries-old ones, and the harm the geothermal power exploration project was goint to cause on the rich biodiversity and the watershed capacity of the forest cover on that part of Mt. Kanlaon Nature Park.

Greenwatch Philippines president Don Flordeliza, representing the Save Mt. Kanlaon Coalition based in Bacolod City, said the promised planting of replacement seedlings will take much time to grow, and bio-diversity is almost totally irreplaceable.  Still, PNOC-EDC (the latter initials stand for the Lopez-owned Energy Development Corp.) still emphasizes the so-called legal bases of its haste to cut the trees.  Another speaker, Mara Pardo de Tavera, refused to go along with legal and technical discourse and chose to focus on the value of life.

Another speaker at the forum session was veteran journalist Bernardo V. Lopez, a columnist of BusinessWorld, who was one of the leaders of Task Force Sandawa, the movement that had opposed PNOC incursions in the slope of Mt. Apo, also for geothermal energy, more than a decade and a half ago.  He related the experiences of the Task Force and the people of the country's highest peak in confronting what he called machinations and manipulations of the PNOC, including bribery. Mr. Medrano took exception to the allegations of Lopez.

Flordeliza revealed a plan of the Save Mt. Kanlaon Coalition to file a petition with the Regional Trial Court in Bacolod City for a temporary restraining order to prevent the cutting of trees inside the fenced-off buffer zone on the basis of a memorandum of agreement the PNOC-EDC had signed a few days earlier with Negros Occidental Gov. Isidro Zayco. The Court set the hearing on the petition for August 12.

Flordeliza said 576 trees were cut in a single week, and “at that rate, 2,000 trees would have been cut by the time the Court is scheduled to conduct a hearing on the petition for a TRO.”


      top

   BOXED FEATURE          

TV News Report:

MONTALBAN METHANE PLANT CRITICIZED

The $33-million power plant run by landfill-produced methane is a "band-aid solution" to greenhouse gas emissions that will only encourage dumping of more garbage, according to the Ecological Waste Coalition (EcoWaste).

"If the government is sincere in cutting greenhouse gas emissions from dumps, it must keep all biodegradable materials out of dumps and push for innovative zero-waste programs nationwide," Romy Hidalgo, secretary of EcoWaste, said in a statement issued on Thursday.

The facility – the Montalban Landfill Methane Recovery and Electricity Generation Project – is in Rodriguez (formerly Montalban), Rizal.

It was inaugurated on Thursday by President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, who endorsed it as a "model solution" to climate change and renewable energy source.

But Hidalgo disagreed, saying: "With the push for the so-called 'energy from waste,' we see no end to dumping since there is now a purported use for landfills. This will not encourage our society to aim and work for zero waste."

According to EcoWaste, methane comes from dumping, a destructive way to manage garbage. So landfill-gas-to-energy (LFGTE) power cannot be deemed a renewable energy source.

Alternatives ways to manage trash

The best way to cut the release of methane into the atmosphere is to ban the disposal of biodegradable or organic matters in dump sites, EcoWaste said.

EcoWaste believed that the methane gas power plant was built to justify the existence of what it called "the illegal glorified Rodriguez dump site. EcoWaste believed that the methane gas power plant was built to justify the existence of what it called "the illegal glorified Rodriguez dump site.

It lamented that the project would only encourage hauling of more garbage.

The president of the Bangon Kalikasan Movement, Joey Papa, suggested some alternatives to dumping.

"We don't need to spend a treasure for waste management," Papa said. "The people and the community can manage their own discards by using the inexpensive proven method of waste prevention, segregation, recycling, and composting – the ecological way of managing wastes."

Manny Calonzo, of the Global Alliance for Incinerator Alternatives (GAIA), pointed out that the LFGTE technology feeds on a wasteful pattern of disposing organic materials into the dump sites.

These organic materials could be better used by composting them into effective and safe soil nutrients that can help restore depleted farmlands.

They would also keep farmers from being dependent on chemical farm products, such as toxic pesticides.

Nonproductive approach

Calonzo urged the government to embrace a zero-waste policy so that there would be less garbage that would emit methane in landfills.

"Methane is a global warming gas that has 23 times the warming potential of carbon dioxide," Calonzo said. "In the United States, landfills are largest sources of methane emissions, with those from municipal waste landfills comprising 94 percent of total landfill emissions, while industrial landfills made up the rest."

EcoWaste claimed that LFGTE systems do not necessarily prevent substantial discharge of methane due to inbuilt inefficiencies in the systems to capture all the methane produced.

The group cited a paper by Peter Anderson, a US-based zero-waste advocate, who considererd LFGTE a "a nonproductive approach that fails to overcome the fact that, especially in a world concerned with climate change, land disposal alone – of all the other options to manage discards – creates the enormous volumes of methane that are among the most significant contributors to anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions.

Thus, the EcoWaste said that the promise of electricity from the methane gas collection should not deceive communities already serving as garbage dump sites or those being eyed as new dump sites. - GMANews.TV


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All are invited. to the  Kamayan para sa Kalikasan Environmental Forum held regularly, since March 1990, on the 3rd Friday every month, 10:30am-2pm at the Kamayan Restaurant along EDSA, Mandaluyong City. It is convened jointly by the Clear Communicators for the Environment (CLEAR) and SanibLakas ng mga Aktibong Lingkod ng Inang Kalikasan (SALIKA), fully sponsored by Kamayan.  

 
   

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