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Fighting to Keep a Dirty Power Plant Out of a Tropical Paradise

Protest by local fishermen and Greenpeace activists to reject the development of new coal power plant in Celukan Bawang in Northern Bali (Photo : Made Nagi / Greenpeace)

 

The northern shores of Bali, Indonesia, are resplendent with ancient temples and coconut palm-lined black sand beaches. Villagers fish in the calm sea and tend their terraced rice paddies and fruit orchards. Large groups of spinner dolphins play close to shore, attracting a steady stream of visitors. Divers come from around the world to spot strange and fantastical creatures at sandy-bottom dive sites: mimic octopus, spotted shrimp, hairy frogfish, scorpionfish, neon-colored nudibranch. Lucky divers encounter sea turtles, sharks and rays.

But expansion of a coal-fired power plant in the fishing village of Celukan Bawang threatens this idyllic stretch of north Bali.  Although this region is already imperiled by warming seas, sea level rise and storm surges, the government ignored climate change when approving the project.  Today, in support of the local communities fighting the power plant, Earthjustice and the Indonesia Center for Environmental Law filed a legal brief  in Indonesia’s Administrative Court, arguing that the environmental assessment for the power plant expansion should have considered how the power plant will increase the greenhouse gases that contribute to climate change, as well as how climate change will affect the plant—possibly flooding it completely during storm surges.

The Celukan Bawang power plant wouldn’t just pollute the village’s air and drinking water and devastate the marine ecosystem on which the community relies for their food and livelihoods. It also represents the Indonesian government’s commitment to double down on dirty coal power, despite the threats that climate change presents to Indonesia, like rising temperatures and sea levels and increased storm surges.  And it is unnecessary:  Java and Bali already anticipate oversupply of electricity due to slowing economic growth.

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