VIII. Environmental Impact Assessment
  Environmental impact assessment (EIA) is a legal measure to curb environmental pollution and ecological destruction at the source. In 1998, the Chinese government promulgated the Regulations on Environmental Management of Construction Projects, which put forth the idea of environmental impact assessment, and required construction projects to design, construct and put into use relevant environmental protection facilities along with the progress of the project itself ("three simultaneousnesses" for short). The Law of the People's Republic of China on Environmental Impact Assessment, which came into effect in 2003, extends the EIA practice from construction projects to all development construction plans. The State has also adopted the EIA engineer professional qualification certification system to foster a contingent of professional technicians in this field.

EIA is practiced in 1.46 million construction projects nationwide, and 630,000 new projects have met the requirements of designing, constructing and putting into use relevant environmental protection facilities, with the implementation ratio being 99.3 percent and 96.4 percent, respectively, 95.7 percent of the latter has reached the set standards. Since 1996, a total of 26,998 billion yuan has gone into construction projects across the country, of which the input for environmental protection amounts to 1,230.6 billion yuan, and the amount keeps rising year by year. Thanks to the implementation of the EIA system, industrial projects are reporting "increase in output instead of pollution" or "increase in output with decrease in pollution," and some ecological projects involving major environmentally sensitive issues have avoided potential ecological damage by making changes to the site, route or plan. In 2005, 30 illegal construction projects involving a total of 117.94 billion yuan of investment were halted. In February 2006, ten construction projects, with a total of 29 billion yuan of investment, were investigated and dealt with for not simultaneously designing, constructing and putting into use relevant environmental protection facilities.

The state environmental protection authorities have listed Inner Mongolia, Xinjiang, Guangxi, Dalian and Wuhan, the railway and petrochemical industries, the planning of the Ningxia Ningdong Coal Chemical Industry Base and that of the Shanghai urban rail transportation network as the first pilots of EIA practice in the field of construction planning. The authorities have also completed the EIA work regarding the Special Plan on the Integrated Construction of the National Forestry and Paper-making Industry, conducted EIA work regarding the development and utilization planning of the Tarim River valley, the middle and lower reaches of the Lancang River, the Dadu River in Sichuan, the upper reaches of the Yalong River, and the Yuanshui River valley. When applying EIA to the Nujiang River valley hydropower development plan, comparisons were made regarding the environmental impact to be caused by the layout, scale, ways and sequence of time at different steps of the development plans, and measures were suggested to prevent and reduce the possible impact. The EIA of the stepped hydropower development plan of the Dadu River valley had taken into full consideration the coordination between environment and development, and made comprehensive arrangements for protection of the environment in the valley where resources exploitation would be carried out, by which arrangements a total of backwater distance of 39 km, 1,867 ha of arable land and two county seats were saved from being submerged, and consequently 85,000 people no longer had to be relocated. The State encourages orderly exploitation of hydropower resources, and has reset the energy development strategy and the electricity development principle from "actively developing" to "orderly developing" hydropower based on ecological protection.