Activists extend reef protection signature collection campaign

02/28/2021 06:41 PM
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CNA photo Feb. 28, 2021
CNA photo Feb. 28, 2021

Taipei, Feb. 28 (CNA) An environmental campaign to initiate a referendum against a liquefied natural gas (LNG) project located near an area of algae reef in northern Taiwan will be extended to March 10 in the wake of skyrocketing support over the past few days, activists announced Sunday.

The Rescue Datan's Algal Reefs Alliance, which hopes to collect 350,000 signatures so the campaign can proceed to the next stage of the national referendum process and a vote in August, said it has decided to make a last-minute push to secure the needed signatures hence the extension.

The petition poses 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?"

The campaign was originally set to conclude on Sunday so the alliance could start reviewing the submissions to meet the March 17 deadline set by the Central Election Committee.

However, having already collected about 240,000 signatures, the alliance urged supporters to continue submitting signatures up to March 10.

The campaign, which started last year, had been relatively low-key until recently, when an increasing number of celebrities and political figures spoke out in support of the campaign's goal.

The alliance said it has been receiving new signatures at a rate of 30,000-60,000 per day over the past few days.

Commenting on the LNG project, which passed a mandatory evaluation by the Environmental Protection Administration in 2018 and will be operated by state-run utility CPC, Premier Su Tseng-chang (蘇貞昌) said earlier this week that every effort has been made to avoid environmental damage while securing the country's energy supply.

"We want to stop the coal-burning generation of electricity as soon as possible to cut carbon emissions, so this is a choice we had to make," Su said.

For instance, the government has already 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, from 232 hectares approved by previous Kuomintang administration, he said.

The government will also establish a fund to protect the reefs, he added.

(By Lee Hsin-Yin)


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