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Collaborative Caribbean Alternative Energy System

December 8, 2009

Ban Ki-Moon

Secretary-General of the United Nations

2 United Nations Plaza,
New York, NY 10017

Re: A Collaborative Caribbean Alternative Energy System

Dear Secretary-General Ban:

I write to you on behalf of  many thousands of citizens and environmental associations of the U.S. Virgin Islands.  While the world is focused on the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen with the goals of  reducing the burning of fossil fuels, and  reducing the concentration of CO2 in the atmosphere, our local Virgin Islands government, without prior knowledge or consent of its citizens, intends to build power plants on St. Thomas and St. Croix, costing 444+ million dollars, to burn petroleum coke and garbage for 20 years with a renewal for a further 20 years, all at a very high cost to the ratepayers, polluting the atmosphere and these beautiful islands known for their clean air and water.

Petroleum Coke Plants Must Not Be Built

The combustion of petroleum coke generates 40% more CO2 than combustion of fuel oil, which is used at present in the USVI.  Compared to coal, combustion of petroleum coke emits higher concentrations of all the major components of air pollution, including highly toxic chemicals and heavy metals that are especially dangerous to young children and the unborn.

On these islands, our household and drinking water comes from rainwater falling onto  roofs, and collecting in our cisterns. Unless the power plant scrubbers work perfectly, the plants will put out a fine, ashy substance which will pollute the  air, and thus our roofs and water, and will be a major stressor for the staghorn and elkhorn coral, protected under the Endangered Species Act and  struggling to survive and recolonize in the very bay the petroleum coke would be barged into, powerful thrusters churning up the waters with each barge delivery.

Citizens Of The Virgin Islands’ Human Rights Are Being Violated

We citizens were not given notice of the Public Service Commission hearing.  Those who did find out were only given literally 3 minutes each to speak, then a further 2 minutes each, and organizations and attorneys were treated the same, while the proponents were given over 8 hours to make a prepared presentation of their side.

This fundamental unfairness toward concerned citizens and environmental groups is a consistent pattern in hearings before V.I. boards and commissions, and since our Governor refuses to comply with local laws and fill member positions in the Board of Land Use Appeals, we have no board to even listen to appeals of clearly illegal CZM decisions.

The Alpine project must be stopped immediately, and truly green alternative energy sources explored. Attached are many Letters to the Editor of the Virgin Islands Daily News, written by concerned citizens, letters by the St. Croix Environmental Association, and a report on coal’s assault on human health by the Physicians for Social Responsibility, which all help to illuminate the facts and details of the project.

A Collaborative Caribbean Alternative Energy System

As you confer on a global level at the climate conference, would you consider the USVI as an example, a model for a green alternative energy system which may be used successfully here, and also in the multinational Caribbean collectively, perhaps with geothermal energy in a grid with Nevis or Saba, and ocean thermal energy conversion for St. Croix, as well as solar and wind use.

This would be a dynamic environmental step in the right direction globally.  If the collective Caribbean community would agree to be mutually supportive by working together with the other islands and nations involved, on a common grid, we would be able to create a strong, sustainable, cost effective,  alternative energy system. This collaboration and general plan could be formed during your conference.

Secretary-General Ban,  if you would consult with the United States delegates on this letter, surely they would then contact us. We seek assurance from our federal government that it will now help enforce our Constitutional Rights and address our many environmental concerns including this Alpine energy matter.

Hopefully, with other Caribbean islands, we can work to make a collective alternative energy grid system.  Thank you for your consideration in regard to this matter.

Sincerely yours,

Susan K. Wolterbeek

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