Responding to complaints from local residents in Mt. Talinis against the Energy Development Corporation’s (EDC) planned expansion of its geothermal plant in Negros Oriental, Environment Secretary Regina Lopez yesterday said she will not hesitate to “use the full force of the law” to protect the environment and preserve the ecological balance of Mt. Talinis and other biodiversity areas.

“We will look into this and I assure the public that DENR will be fair through the entire process and take into account the concerns of all,” said environment chief Lopez.

Some local residents and representatives of some organizations are opposing EDC’s expansion saying it would lead to cutting of old-growth trees in the local mountain range.

EDC, which operates a 223-megawatt geothermal plant in Valencia, Negros Oriental, submitted an application for environmental clearance certificate for the expansion of the plant’s capacity by some 60 additional megawatts.

The DENR’s Environmental Management Bureau office in the region has held public hearings on the application to gather the position and opinions of stakeholders.

“Through good environmental governance, we aim to harmonize our economic activities with nature through sound practices that will not only address climate change but ensure the sustainable use of our resources, conservation and preservation” Lopez said.

Lopez said this is the paramount reason for her adherence to strict compliance with environmental laws, rules, regulations and standards, stressing “there is no room for violation.”

“This is our guiding principle, our commitment, our preaching and our practice in our quest for sustainable development. This is our call to all stakeholders,” she said.

“Our concern for the environment and the pursuit of the common good transcends familial and other ties,” she added.####