China Environmental News Digest

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Friday, January 12, 2007

China Watchdog to Deny Power Project OKs

Jan. 11, 2007, 1:03AM

The Associated Press via Chron.com

SHANGHAI, China — China's environmental protection agency says it won't approve new power plant projects by four major utilities until the companies bring current projects into compliance with safeguards.

China Datang Corp., China Huaneng Group, China Huadian Corp. and China Guodian Corp. will not be granted approvals for new construction projects until they stop violating environmental regulations, the State Environmental Protection Agency said in a statement on its Web site.

The companies were among many listed on the agency's blacklist of 82 "severe violations" of environmental safeguards, involving investments worth 112.3 billion yuan (US$14.4 billion;euro11.1 billion). Most were in the power, steel, chemical and metallurgy industries.

In the past year, the government has stepped up efforts to enforce long-disregarded regulations in a belated attempt to prevent the already dismal state of the environment from deteriorating further.

The next step would be to hold company and local government officials accountable for violations, the SEPA statement said.

Like many other countries, China depends heavily on coal-fired power plants for electricity. Most of the country's hundreds of power plants lack up-to-date pollution controls and are a major source of smog.

China saw 161 serious environmental accidents in 2006, the biggest annual number ever, the statement cited Pan Yue, the agency's deputy director, as saying. The country also failed to meet its target for reducing air pollution emissions by 2 percent, it said.

The agency received 600,000 complaints about pollution problems last year.

"The environmental problem has become a key bottleneck for social and economic development," it said.

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