Presidential bets want coal energy phase-out (But Greenpeace and EcoWaste Coalition survey show some are iffy on nuclear)

Quezon City,. 09 April 2010 – Greenpeace and EcoWaste Coalition today released the fourth instalment of the Green Electoral Initiative (GEI), a survey intended to determine the Presidential candidates’ stand on key environmental issues. The latest results show their respective positions when it comes to energy development in the country.

While all of the survey participants want coal energy phased-out, and almost all of them are against the proposed re-commissioning of the Bataan Nuclear Power Plant (BNPP), some of the candidates’ responses regarding the use of nuclear power and the disposal of nuclear wastes were non-committal. Exceptions to this are Nicanor Perlas and Senator Jamby Madrigal, who answered clearly that they are against nuclear power. Senator Richard Gordon, on the other hand, favors going nuclear.

Perlas placed first in this latest installment of the GEI, garnering an average of 9.5 points. Perlas pointed to energy efficiency (EE) and renewable energy (RE) as solutions to the country’s energy challenges, instead of turning to nuclear power. “I am convinced that the Philippines does not need nuclear power and the massive social and environmental costs that go along with it. We can supply the country’s need for energy using energy efficiency and green energy technologies.”

Madrigal was similarly very explicit about her stand against nuclear energy: “As President, I shall institute a firm government policy against nuclear power. I shall also launch an investigation on the country’s losses due to odious debt and trade, including BNPP transactions marred by corruption and import overpricing and initiate seeking restitution for 1.06 billion USD debt.” Madrigal achieved an average of 7.5 points.

To justify his pro-nuclear stance, Gordon said, “I think it is unconscionable that we have spent billions of the people's money on something we cannot use because of our fears…We have to look at other countries who use nuclear power, send our scholars to study how going nuclear has worked in other countries, and ultimately apply these methods that have already worked back home.” GEI evaluators noted, however, that the senator did not offer any solution to the problem of nuclear waste disposal. Gordon placed seventh, with an average of 4.9 points.

While lauding the common position against dirty coal power, Manny Calonzo of the EcoWaste Coalition lamented, however, that some pro-nuclear candidates were underestimating the fundamental problems associated with nuclear power. “The problem of nuclear waste disposal is being swept under the rug,” he said. “Contrary to what proponents of nuclear energy say, there is still no safe, foolproof way to dispose of nuclear waste, and it looks like it will take them many more years or decades before a viable solution is even thought of. But the Philippines doesn’t have the luxury of time.”

“Instead of remaining fixated on dirty, dangerous and expensive energy options, our leaders should look at harnessing the vast renewable energy potential available in the country,” added Von Hernandez, Executive Director of Greenpeace Southeast Asia. “Together with energy efficiency, RE technologies are already available, economically viable, and will help ensure a safe and sustainable energy future for the country.”

Senator Benigno Aquino III and evangelist Eddie Villanueva tied at third and fourth place, each with an average of 7 points. Senator Manny Villar placed fifth with an average of 5.4 points. At sixth place is Councilor JC de los Reyes with an average of 5.2 points. Former Defense Secretary Gilbert Teodoro and former President Joseph Estrada both scored 0 points for not submitting any answer to the GEI survey.

The complete, overall ranking of the GEI survey will be released on or before Earth Day, April 22.



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