Immediately, the bills would allow GPA to build a single generator within 1200 feet of Jose Rios Middle School (JRMS), as depicted in the graphic below, which violates the Clean Air Act.
It is for that reason that the bills have felt resistance throughout Guam and in the 36th Guam Legislature. Senator Clynt Ridgell, in an interview with PNC’s Althea Engman, said that many parents whose children attend Jose Rios Middle School do not know that the generator is being built.
GPA’s arguments for the generator
However, Benavente argues, for one, “The school’s potential impact from plant emissions occurred less than 3% of plant operations over the past 5 years.” Another argument Benavente provides is that they would not be burning heavy fuel oil, which is responsible for the dark haze that can be seen pumped out of chimneys from the Cabras and Piti generators; he says they will be using ultra low sulfur diesel (ULSD).
In other words, according to Benavente, since 2011, they have stopped using 0.5% sulfur fuel and started using 0.0015% sulfur fuel–that is, ULSD.
Furthermore, Benavente argues that the Clean Air Act was created because a generator (Macheche CT) had been built 500 ft from Juan M. Guerrero Elementary School, causing many staff, parents, and students to complain about the smell.
But the switch to ULSD, says Benavente, causes lower emissions than earlier. Likely, JRMS students would not feel the effects. He adds that the Clean Air Act was created to address problems at the time and does not consider new technology.
He mentions that they are working to transition to 50% renewable energy by 2035, as required by law. One such initiative is to drive SO2 (sulfur dioxide) emissions down from 300 tons to 7 tons by 2026. “What happens if we don’t comply?” he asks. “Penalties.”
But, Senator Ridgell points out, “You’re still burning fossil fuel.”
For more on this story, click here.