Fighting Coal and Protecting the Climate in the Dominican Republic

ELAW has been working with partners in the Dominican Republic to protect the climate and defeat a proposed coal-fired power plant in Punta Catalina. As a small island country, the Dominican Republic is particularly vulnerable to climate change. Severe droughts and tropical storms have intensified in recent years, causing extensive damage and threatening the food security, infrastructure, and health of communities across the Dominican Republic.

ELAW’s Mark Chernaik participating in panel by video conference. Photo:

Nonetheless, investors have proposed building the country’s first coal-fired power plant, a 770 MW project that would emit CO2 equivalent to 1.35 million cars on the road each year.

ELAW partners at the Instituto de Abogados para la Proteccion del Medio Ambiente (INSAPROMA) have called on us to help make the case against coal, and instead use natural gas to power the facility.

Last week, a panel of experts convened in Santo Domingo to consider the technical and economic feasibility of operating the Punta Catalina plant with natural gas instead of coal.

ELAW Staff Scientist Mark Chernaik participated in the panel remotely from Eugene by live video link. Mark shared the social cost that carbon emissions would have on the economy, human health, and the environment, and provided evidence that operating the facility with natural gas instead of coal would reduce CO2 emissions by approximately 2.66 million tons per year.

“Authorizing construction of the plant to use coal would cost up to $400 million per year in damages to the climate, and $30 million in human health damages, and would make it virtually impossible for the Dominican Republic to comply with its commitments under the Paris Agreement,” says Mark.

The panel gained widespread attention from media outlets across the Dominican Republic. For more information about the event, see (Spanish only):

* “U.S. expert warns Punta Catalina will prevent country from complying with Paris Agreement on climate change”

* “Converting Punta Catalina to natural gas would avoid damage to human health”

We are optimistic that we can help secure a victory against coal in the Dominican Republic. We will keep you posted on this effort.

Thank you for supporting this work!

Ashley White
Director of Philanthropy
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