Bernie Sanders & 3 Other US Senators Oppose Lamu Coal Plant Project

  • Four United States Senators have opposed the setting up of the Lamu Coal plant in Kenya.

    The legislators: Jeffrey Merkley, Brian Schatz, Bernard Sanders, and Edward Markey wrote a letter to the African Development Bank (AFDB) Executive Director Tarik Al- Tashani advising against the financing of the Chinese-backed plant.

    "We are writing to urge you to vote against financing the development of the Chinese-backed Lamu Coal Plant in Kenya. Not only is the project financially unsound, it would also tarnish Kenya's reputation as a leader in clean energy, worsen environmental quality, and result in millions of tonnes of annual carbon dioxide emissions," the legislators stated.

    [caption caption="US Senator Bernie Sanders"][/caption]

    The Senators explained that the development of the Lamu Coal Plant would be counterproductive to Kenya's climate goals and would set back the country's progress in building a sustainable energy system.

    "The proposed 1,050 MW coal plant would emit as much as 8.8 megatonnes of Carbon (IV) oxide equivalent per year. The commitment to reduce emissions under the Paris climate accord. Furthermore, emissions from the power plant would result in detrimental health impacts caused by high levels of local air, water and soil pollution. 

    [caption caption="Anti-coal protests"][/caption]

    "The long lifetime of coal-fired power plants would perpetuate these negative environmental and health impacts for decades," they conveyed.

    The legislators added that the Lamu Coal Plant would increase Africa indebtedness to China and potentially undermine African partners' long-term economic health.

    In contrast, renewable energy prices are falling precipitously, and Kenya has emerged as one of the lowest cost developers of geothermal power in the world.

    "We understand the need for Kenya to increase electricity supply and access for its citizens. However, instead of financing projects that would produce profoundly negative environmental impacts, the AFDB should consider projects that tap into Kenya's tremendous renewable and low-cost resources," the Senators advised.

    On Tuesday, anti-coal activists across Kenya including from Lamu and Kitui held the #CoalNiSumu (Coal is Poison) demonstration in Nairobi, Kenya.

    [caption caption="Anti-coal protests"][/caption]

    They delivered their demands to have the coal plant discontinued to Parliament and the Office of the President.

    Speaking to Kenyans.co.ke, Paul Mutuku, an activist with environmental group 350 Kenya stated that the protests were in commemoration of the World Environment Day advocating for a clean and conducive environment for all.

    [caption caption="Anti-coal protests"][/caption]

    "We are opposed to the project because by the time the project becomes operational, the $2 Billion project will likely create unnecessary capacity, yet the government would be obligated to pay $360 Million per annum in fixed annual capacity payments whether or not the electricity is ever dispatched.

    "We are calling for the national government and other financiers of this project to pull out and instead invest in renewable sources of energy that will not endanger the livelihoods of locals," he elucidated.

    [caption caption="Anti-coal protests in Nairobi"][/caption]