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Energy bill still no closer to becoming law
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Draft energy legislation won't be ready in time for lawmakers to read at the annual session of the National People's Congress (NPC), key drafters said.


That's likely to rule out discussion on a unified national energy body at the parliamentary session in March, as there's still no legislative framework.


Dong Chaojie, deputy department director at the State Council's Legislative Affairs Office, said the timetable was still up in the air, despite the fact that it's been in the draft stage for two years already.


"We haven't discussed it yet," Dong told China Daily. Under the legislative process, Dong's office can decide when to submit drafts for the National People's Congress to read and vote on.


She said it was "complicated" to weigh the interests of all stakeholders and parties governed by the energy legislation.


Ye Rongsi, deputy head of drafting under the National Energy Leading Group, said, "It will take further time" to consolidate input from all stakeholders.


"I think 2009 is the earliest possible date for the legislative body to read and vote on the draft," Ye said, at a forum seeking international views yesterday.


The widely circulated draft law emphasizes a unified management system to plan, run and supervise China's energy sector, which is currently managed by a number of government departments and agencies.


"We need to set up an overarching agency to take responsibility for China's challenging energy sector," said Ye, adding that improving management and guaranteeing energy security are the law's top goals.


The international forum, which ends today, was part of the open-consultation drafting process. The National Energy Leading Group has also uploaded the draft to its website for comments.


International experts at the forum stressed the urgency of setting up a unified national agency to oversee China's energy sector.


Barbara Finamore, president of the China-US Energy Efficiency Alliance, said the nation's energy agencies struggle with a few employees and an unusual division of responsibilities that's made consolidating authority difficult.


"Given the background, significant institutional restructuring may be required in order to administer a cohesive national energy plan," said Finamore.


There are four energy laws in China covering coal, electricity, energy conservation and renewable energy, but none on petroleum, natural gas and nuclear energy.


(China Daily January 25, 2008)


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