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Environmental Law Set for Update
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Though it is not on the NPC Standing Committee's review list this year, legislators will continue to revise the Environmental Protection Law, the cornerstone of China's legal effort to protect the environment, a key environment official said.

In its current form, the law's biggest shortcoming is that it lacks a provision clarifying the responsibilities of government, businesses and the public in protecting the environment, said Qian Yi, deputy chairman of the Environmental and Resources Protection Committee of the National People's Congress.

Pan Yue, vice-minister of the State Environmental Protection Administration, also said recently that any revision to the Environment Protection Law should focus on holding local government responsible for the quality of the environment.

He said local-government in efforts to enforce environmental law should be curbed.

Qian noted that there are many other compelling reasons to revise the law.

The law was adopted in 1989, at a time when the country did not have a clear concept of scientific development, said Qian.

As a result, the law does not mention any of the current hot topics, like reducing energy consumption, focusing instead on prohibiting the degradation of the environment.

Qian said the nearly 20-year-old law could not meet the contemporary demands of social and economic development anymore.

Also, with the adoption of laws on clean water, air pollution, clean environmental energy and environment-impact assessments in recent years, the basic role of the Environmental Protection Law will eventually diminish if it is not reviewed to keep pace with progress, Qian said.

(China Daily March 8, 2007)

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