Article: China implements strict new update to environmental protection law

China implements strict new update to environmental protection law
http://www.wantchinatimes.com/news-subclass-cnt.aspx?id=20150102000117&cid=1105
China began implementing an updated Environmental Protection Law beginning Jan 1, 2015, seen as the strictest environmental protection law ever as it will give penalty to illegal sewage dumping on a daily basis without upper limits and may detain violators, China Youth Daily reports.

This has shown the government’s determination to declare a war against pollution, and responded to the public’s calls for a clean environment, said Ministry of Environmental Protection vice minister Pan Yue. Currently, the most important thing is how related officials enforce the law with to ensure the law has teeth that can take a bit out of the problem, he said.

Before the law revision, environmental protection agencies could only conduct penalties to violators for an upper limit of one million yuan (US$161,000) and could do so only one time. Some companies well known for their polluting practices have even been known to just hand over the penalty amount to domestic environmental protection agencies in the beginning of a year, even suggesting afterwards that the agencies now no longer need to enforce the law for the rest of that year.

The biggest bright spot for the updated law is that for companies that illegally discharge waste, the environmental protection agencies can conduct penalties on a daily basis and without an upper limit.

China University of Political Science Professor Wang Canfa, an environmental law expert, has been calling for raising penalties for polluters for years. Conducting penalties on a daily basis is considered a more mature system in developed countries. Several years ago, Chongqing introduced the daily penalty system and immediately shocked the industry. Before introducing the new penalties, only 4.8% of polluters would have corrected their behaviors, but after implementing the updated rules, the correction rate soon jumped to 84%, and later, above 90%, Wang said.

The second weapon for the updated law is the restriction of personal freedoms for polluters, Wang said.

In fact, before the implementation of the updated law, the Supreme People’s Court already made an interpretation on the penalties for environmental polluters to strengthen them. Currently, court cases that are environmental in nature have reached about 1,000 a year in China. Since June 2013, courts have handled more than 1,000 environmental cases with more than 1,000 people sentenced.

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Pan Yue ??

Wang Canfa ???