Lopez wants ECCs on renewable energy approved in 2 weeks

MANILA, Philippines – "Any ECC for solar, for wind, for whatever – anything which will give us power and not damage people's health, you're good, man. We want you in."

Environment Secretary Gina Lopez made the statement on Wednesday, January 18, as she announced her "firm commitment" to approve in just two weeks applications for environmental compliance certificate (ECC) of renewable energy projects.

"The instruction of the secretary on renewable energy is to issue immediately – we'll be processing with a two-week timetable – ECCs on [renewable energy], whether it is hydro, wind, solar, or biomass," Environment Undersecretary Arturo Valdez explained.

Lopez, however, said she is not in favor of dams because they "take away water from the farmers."

"I like renewable energy because you can get energy without causing suffering," said the secretary, who has been pushing aggressively for the country to go into clean energy.

Environment Undersecretary for Legal Affairs Maria Paz Luna said while the department will try to shorten the process from 20 to 14 days, the processing time will still depend on the volume of information that companies will submit to them.

"The point of the Environmental Impact Assessment System is to assess each source environmentally...because the state will bear the burden if you get the cheapest but it's the worst environmentally. So you choose the cheapest pero mahal rin pala 'pag tiningnan mo 'yung (but it's still expensive when you look at the) environmental impact," she explained.

And since "technology is changing so fast," Luna said renewable energy could be more beneficial to the country than coal in the long run. (READ: Energy chief to Gina Lopez: Let's find balance between coal and renewables)

"Mas magsisisi tayo 'pag ni-lock-in natin ang sarili natin sa isang technology na mahal pa rin siya after 5 years, pero nakalock-in ka na for 25 years," she said, echoing Lopez's earlier statement regarding coal plants.

(We will regret it more if we lock ourselves in with a technology that could still be expensive after 5 years, but you're already locked in for 25 years.)

She added: "Doon magmumura mga tao. [But] considering how fast you can put up a solar panel, how fast you can put up a wind generator, palagay ko, hopefully, 'di tayo magsisisi."

(People will complain because of that. [But] considering how fast you can put up a solar panel, how fast you can put up a wind generator, I think, hopefully, we won't regret it.)

Valdez said the department is "not excited about coal."

On Wednesday, environment officials also announced the cancellation of 6 expired ECCs:

Lopez said they cancelled these ECCs not only because they're already expired, but also because "they would have caused damage to the environment." – Rappler.com

Jee Y. Geronimo

Jee is part of Rappler's Central Desk, handling most of the world, science, and environment stories on the site. She enjoys listening to podcasts and K-pop, watching Asian dramas, and running long distances. She hopes to visit Israel someday to retrace the steps of her Savior.

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