Cabinet defends controversial LNG development project

Taipei-The Cabinet spokesman on Thursday defended a controversial liquefied natural gas (LNG) project located near an area of algae reef in northern Taiwan, indicating that every effort has been made to avoid environmental damage while securing the country's energy supply.

The comments by Lo Ping-cheng (???) came at a regular Cabinet press briefing after public calls to sign a petition supporting a referendum to stop the LNG project went viral in recent days.

The referendum was initiated last year by Rescue Datan's Algal Reefs Alliance convener Pan Chong-cheng (???).

The petition, which would pose the referendum question: "Do you agree that CPC Corporation, Taiwan's LNG station should be relocated from its planned site near the algal reef coast of Datan and its surrounding waters?" had collected 123,700 signatures as of Feb. 24, according to the alliance.

On the same day, the alliance indicated it collected a record number of 16,422 daily signatures. However, in order to proceed to the next stage of the national referendum process and a vote in August, 350,000 signatures have to be collected by Feb. 28.

At the press briefing, Lo said the government has minimized the impact on the reef by reducing the construction area of the proposed LNG station off the coast of Datan Borough in Taoyuan by 90 percent.

Asked whether there are alternative locations where the terminal could be built by state-run utility CPC, Lo said there are a range of issues with other options.

For instance, if the station was relocated to Taipei Port, an additional 40 kilometers of LNG cables would have to be installed, causing other environmental and economic difficulties, he said.

While the current project passed a mandatory evaluation by the Environmental Protection Administration in 2018, any relocation would automatically restart that process, resulting in a delay of 11 years, Lo said.

If that happened there would be energy shortages in northern Taiwan, further burdening power plants in central and southern parts of the country, he said.

The LNG project will contribute to Taiwan's energy portfolio without causing excessive pollution or requiring coal burning, whereas other energy management options such as transporting electricity generated in the south to the north will cause other problems, Lo noted.

The government's job now is to make related information transparent and continue to inform the public, he added.

Source: Focus Taiwan News Channel