Deputy minister will again oversee impact assessments

Updated: 2015-09-02 07:41

By Zheng Jinran(China Daily USA)

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The deputy minister of environmental protection will again take charge of environmental impact assessments, returning to a position he held 10 years ago and raising expectations he will once more implement effective steps to control polluting projects.

Pan Yue, 55, who has been deputy minister of environmental protection for 12 years, will oversee work related to the assessments. It is his second time in the position, in an adjustment of the ministry's leaders, Southern Metropolis Daily reported on Tuesday.

There was no official announcement or confirmation from the ministry on Tuesday, but two sources within the ministry confirmed the change for China Daily.

Since the end of 2004, Pan headed the environmental impact assessment of projects, and in the following three years undertook strict efforts to control polluting projects.

Environmental impact assessments led to the rejection of 30 major construction projects, including the Xiluodu hydropower plant along the Jinsha River, and each was fined as much as 200,000 yuan ($31,400), according to a statement posted on the ministry's website in 2005.

The statement said the hydropower plant, whose construction began before assessment was completed, would have to stop construction and adjust the work area to avoid negative influences on a nearby natural reserve.

Deputy minister will again oversee impact assessments

In 2007, the ministry rejected the assessment of over 80 enterprises due to the projects' inappropriate locations and risks of polluting the environment.

Since 2008, Pan had shifted his focus to other issues in the ministry.

Many pollution problems from highly polluting industries and projects with excessive emissions are closely related to loose environmental impact assessments in recent years, said Ma Jun, director of the Institute for Public and Environmental Affairs, on Tuesday.

The environmental impact assessment is the first step before a project begins construction, a necessary move to reduce pollution from the start.

However, it has been common for projects to begin construction before an assessment is completed, said Chen Jining, minister of environmental protection, when addressing the concerns of national legislators on Saturday.

Chen said the ministry would promote adjustments to the assessment law, making it stronger and more effective.

(China Daily USA 09/02/2015 page4)