Court challenge looms for DENR waste-to-energy rules

ENVIRONMENT ADVOCATES filed a petition with the Supreme Court (SC) seeking to nullify the Department of Environment and Natural Resources’ (DENR) current guidelines on building waste-to-energy (WTE) facilities.

Petitioners including the Ecowaste Coalition, Interfacing Development Interventions for Sustainability, and five individuals, filed the petition Thursday seeking to bar Environment Secretary Roy A. Cimatu from implementing the rules.

“(DENR Administrative Order) 2019-21… is an invalid administrative order and, more importantly, its implementation will cause irreparable harm to human health and the environment,” Senior Policy Officer of the Ecowaste Coalition Lievj Raoni B. Alimangohan said in a statement.

The petitioners claim that implementing the DAO will result in “grave violations” of the people’s right to health and the right to a balanced and healthful environment.

The petition, obtained by BusinessWorld, asks the SC to release an environmental protection order, alleging that the DENR violated the Ecological Solid Waste Management Act, Clean Air Act and other laws by issuing its order.

“The DENR violated the public trust doctrine when it issued and implemented the administrative order,” the Philippine branch of global movement Break Free from Plastic said.

Rei Panaligan, the national coordinator of the Plastic-Free Pilipinas project, said that WTE facilities transform waste into other harmful substances, including dioxins and furans.

“Dioxins and furans are highly toxic substances that cause cancer, diabetes, and chloracne. Also, WTE facilities emit high volumes of greenhouse gases that accelerate climate change. This is why we really need to immediately stop the implementation of the DENR’s WTE guidelines,” he said.

According to DAO 2019-21, WTE facilities convert waste into heat, electricity or fuel using “various technologies.” The guidelines, which were signed by Mr. Cimatu, detailed the conditions which must be met before a WTE plant can be built. — Angelica Y. Yang