ISSUED BY THE STANDING COMMITTEE OF THE NATIONAL PEOPLE'S CONGRESS (THE “STANDING COMMITTEE”)
The EPL has been amended for the first time since it was enacted in 1989. The New EPL has introduced significant changes to the 1989 EPL to establish a comprehensive and tighter environmental protection legal framework.
The New EPL’s main updates are as follows:
- The New EPL establishes a public disclosure mechanism, requiring entities and governments to disclose certain information, such as the names of its major pollutants, the types of emissions, emission concentration and total volume, whether the emission exceeds relevant limits, and the construction and operation of pollution prevention and control facilities.
- The New EPL encourages the public supervision of governments and pollutant - discharging entities, by establishing the following reporting mechanisms:
- citizens, legal persons and other organizations can report and file complaints with the environmental protection departments and other authorities against entities and individuals that cause environmental pollution and ecological damage;
- citizens, legal persons and other organizations that become aware of the failure of certain local people’s governments at any level, any environmental protection department and other departments with supervisory and administration duties relating to the environmental protection of the people's governments at or above the county level to perform environmental supervision and administration duties under the law, may report these situations to the higher -level authorities or supervisory authorities.
It also entitles social organizations satisfying the following conditions to file lawsuits against polluters:
- The social organizations shall have been registered with the civil affairs department of the people's government at or above the level of city with districts in accordance with the law; and
- The social organizations shall have been engaged mainly in public service activities in environmental protection for five consecutive years without any record of violating laws.
- The New EPL improves the regime for environmental impact assessment, which the 1989 EPL did not establish clearly.
It specifies that the preparation of development and utilization plans and the construction of projects that have an impact on the environme nt are subject to environmental impact assessments.
Also, it bans any development and utilization plans or construction projects without environmental impact assessments from being implemented or started.
- The New EPL establishes stricter penalties for non-compliance.
It imposes additional fines on enterprises, public institutions and other producers or business operators that have been fined and ordered to correct the illegal discharge of pollutants, but refused to correct them. The additional fines are calculated consecutively on a daily basis, based on the original amount of the fine, and starting on the date immediately following the date the entity is ordered to make the correction.
It establishes the liabilities of environmental assessment, monitoring and mainte- nance agencies for committing fraud when providing these services, and stipulates that these agencies will be held jointly and severally liable for any environmental pollution and ecological damage caused by the fraud.
Date of issue: April 24, 2014. Effective date: January 1, 2015.