• Directory of Taiwan

Taiwan's economics minister comments on algal reef referendum

Wang Mei-hua stresses importance of increasing natural gas use, reducing reliance on coal

Minister of Economic Affairs Wang Mei-hua.

Minister of Economic Affairs Wang Mei-hua. (CNA photo)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — Minister of Economy Affairs (MOEA) Wang Mei-hua (王美花) on Thursday (March 4) reiterated her belief that relying more on natural gas and reducing coal usage are among the principle ways for Taiwan to transition into other types of energy.

Plans by CPC Corporation, Taiwan's state-owned petrochemicals company, to build a liquefied natural gas receiving station in Datan, Taoyuan, could threaten the algal reefs in the area.

The Cherish Algal Reefs Referendum Group opposes the station’s construction and has initiated a referendum to rescue the reefs, stating that the signatures represent the love of Taiwanese for their country and their determination to protect the environment, UDN reported. As of Friday (March 5), the group has collected 570,828 signatures.

At a ministerial meeting Thursday afternoon, Wang repeated the MOEA’s position, stressing that if the government wants to promote the transition to cleaner energy, there must be long-term planning regarding electricity use. Increasing natural gas consumption and reducing reliance on coal will contribute to this transition, she said.

The minister pointed out that Nuclear Plant 1 has been decommissioned and that Nuclear Plant 2 will also be shut down later this year. If the new plant planned for Datan does not go through, there will likely be an electricity shortage in northern Taiwan, CNA cited her as saying. This would then lead to the burning of more coal to make up for the lack of power.

Wang added that a hearing is a legal obligation and that after the referendum concludes, the MOEA will give relevant explanations and debate the issue in accordance with Central Election Commission rules. Information will be kept transparent so that everyone can understand and communicate clearly with each other, she stated.

The Cherish Algal Reefs Referendum Group had originally set Sunday (Feb. 28) as the end of its campaign but later decided to extend it to March 17. It urges the public to sign before March 10 so it can review its collection of signatures on time.

Last August, a CPC work vessel that had been beached off the shores of Datan on March 28 was found to have destroyed a large number of algal reefs and killed endangered corals.