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​Impact assessments put on faster track

Time:2022-07-25 09:57:38

Source:CHINA DAILY

A miner works at a coal mine in Lyuliang, Shanxi province. [Photo/China News Service]

Ministry expedites ecological evaluation for major projects to keep economic growth

Environmental impact assessments for 47,800 projects were greenlighted across the country in the first half of this year, as the Ministry of Ecology and Environment intensified its endeavors to help maintain stable macroeconomic performance, an environmental official said.

Liu Zhiquan, head of environmental impact assessment and emission management at the ministry, also said planned investment in these projects totals over 8.4 trillion yuan ($1.24 trillion), up by 28.9 percent compared with the same period last year.

The increase is the result of a series of measures taken by the ministry to enhance the efficiency in the examination and approval processes, especially for major projects, he noted at a news conference on Thursday.

In June, the ministry published a notification on better serving environmental impact assessments for major projects, urging environmental authorities of different levels to offer support, he continued.

The ministry, for example, made a list of all those major projects, he said. Aside from simplifying the procedures for compiling the assessment documents for them, it also mobilized experts to help with the drafting work.

Liu noted the great importance the ministry has attached to coal production, water conservancy, oil and gas pipelines, and railways as key sectors.

"With service support mechanisms established for environmental impact assessments in some key sectors, the ministry opened green channels for projects that meet requirements on ecological and environmental protection," he said.

"Assessment documents from such projects are immediately accepted and transferred for examination once they are handed in. On the basis of ensuring ecological and environmental safety, the ministry has accelerated the examination and approval process for them."

To date, the ministry has held 15 coordination conferences for these key sectors. In the first half of this year, it approved environmental impact assessment documents for 91 major projects, he said. Among them, 20 are coal mine projects that help address tension between supply and demand for the fuel, increasing the country's annual coal production capacity by 125 million metric tons.

Liu also highlighted efforts the ministry has made to ensure the quality of the assessment's examination and approval.

Referring to assessments as the first line of defense to safeguard the environmental approach of "lucid waters and lush mountains", he said, "the work plays an important role in synergizing high-quality economic development and environmental protection".

In addition to demanding higher efficiency, the ministry has asked local authorities to strictly ensure environmental safety in examining and approving assessment documents, and to ramp up supervision over related projects.

He stressed that locations, distribution and scale for all types of projects should follow the law, saying these are bottom lines that cannot be crossed. All projects should take effective measures to ensure that their emissions meet national standards and local requirements, he said.

Sticking to a people-centered philosophy of development, environmental authorities should pay special attention to projects with residents nearby, Liu emphasized.

The most rigorous control measures must be included in their environmental impact assessment documents if some projects have the potential to directly affect the public with exhaust gas, noise, wastewater and hazardous waste.


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