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Energy draft hints at separate ministry
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China's first energy law draft calls for placing the entire sector under a single ministry-level body, an expert who worked on the draft said yesterday.

Supervision of the energy sector now spreads across several government departments, Wu Zhonghu said yesterday, and suggested how it can be strengthened.

China began drafting its first energy law last year. The draft is soliciting experts' opinion and is open to amendments, he said.

He, however, refused to confirm speculation that China is likely to form a ministry of energy exclusively for the energy industry.

The Shanghai-based Oriental Morning News yesterday quoted a source as saying that the "ministry of energy" could be set up as early as in March.

Electricity, coal, oil, gas, energy saving and planning, and international cooperation sectors will be put under the new ministry, which existed between 1988 and 1993, the report said.

Many government sectors are now involved in the energy industry. They include the energy bureau of the National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC), the State Electricity Regulatory Commission, the State Administration of Coal Mine Safety, the Ministry of Water Resources, and the Ministry of Land and Resources.

Such diversion of power, many experts say, has been hindering the implementation of energy policies.

The government has vowed to cut energy consumption per unit of gross domestic product by 20 percent from 2006 to 2010, or 4 percent each year, and reduce pollutant emissions by 10 percent during the period.

The newspaper quoted energy expert Wu Jingdong as saying the lack of a ministry of energy is creating greater pressure on the country to meet those goals.

Neither the NDRC energy bureau, nor the Office of the National Energy Leading Group can coordinate the interests of various departments, and that could eventually become a hurdle in meeting the goals, Wu aid.

China consumes the second largest amount of energy in the world. But the International Energy Agency said last week it could overtake the US as the largest energy consumer by 2030, by which time its primary energy demand is likely to increase two-fold from 2005.

(China Daily November 14, 2007)

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