Climate and Environment

Groups raise alarm over new gas project in Verde Island Passage

Gaea Katreena Cabico - Philstar.com
Groups raise alarm over new gas project in Verde Island Passage
Fisherfolk hold a protest in the waters of Batangas City on April 22, Earth Day to denounce the expansion of fossil gas plants and liquefied natural gas (LNG) terminal in the area.
Mara Manuel for Center for Energy, Ecology and Development

MANILA, Philippines — Clean energy advocates and locals expressed opposition to a proposed liquefied natural gas (LNG) terminal in Batangas province, saying the project will put the Verde Island Passage and coastal communities that rely on the marine corridor at risk.

In a letter to Shell, residents and groups asked the multinational oil and gas company to shelve its proposed P3.5-billion LNG import terminal in Batangas City. Once operational, the terminal is seen to disrupt fishing and other activities.

“There are tens of thousands of us who rely on small-scale fishing and many more on ecotourism, which bring in several millions of pesos of revenue for Batangas alone. These sectors will be adversely impacted by the construction of an LNG terminal,” the letter read.

The construction of the gas facility and the consequent frequent entry of barges as well as inadvertent oil spills or disposal of shipboard liquid and other waste will also pose negative impacts on the biodiversity rich Verde Island Passage, the groups added.

They also stressed the need to protect and nurture the health of coastal ecosystems to build the resilience of communities, and the need to shift away from fossil fuels as the impacts of climate change are being increasingly felt. 

“Every typhoon that barrels through the Philippines is tainted by the carbon emissions of Shell and other polluters who have changed our climate for the worse,” said Yeb Sano, executive director of Greenpeace Southeast Asia and head of the Greenpeace delegation at COP27.

Shell is one of the carbon majors linked to 71% of industrial greenhouse gas emissions since 1988.

Fossil battleground

Currently, there are five operating fossil gas plants in Batangas. It is also the site of eight proposed plants and seven LNG terminals.

According to the think-tank Center for Energy, Ecology, and Development, Shell secured an Environmental Compliance Certificate from the environment department for the same project in 2013. But the company shelved the development of the project due to unfavorable market conditions at the time.

“It makes no sense for Shell to still insist on gas. I cannot imagine a more unfavorable market condition than the sky-high energy prices we are experiencing right now across the world,” said Gerry Arances, executive director of CEED and co-convenor of Protect VIP.

President Ferdinand "Bongbong" Marcos Jr. called on Congress to enact a law that will foster the midstream natural gas industry. 

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