EPA Is Hurting Developer Profits
That seems to be the judgment of the Cabinet according to an article in the Taipei Times yesterday:
The government is to review the role of the Environmental Protection Administration (EPA) in environmental impact assessments of investment projects, Premier Sean Chen said yesterday.
The announcement came in the wake of recent rulings by the EPA that were not favorable to the proposed expansion of a Formosa Petrochemical Corp (台塑石化) plant in Yunlin County.
The current system under which the EPA is mandated to reject an investment project due to environmental concerns “is not in line with the Environmental Impact Assessment Act (環境影響評估法),” Chen told Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Legislator Wu Yu-jen (吳育仁) at a question-and-answer session at the legislature yesterday.
Article 1 of the Environmental Impact Assessment Act says that the legislation is aimed at “preventing” and “mitigating” the adverse impact of development activity on the environment, rather than to “eradicate” development projects, Chen said.
A recent EPA ruling rejected an appeal by Formosa Petrochemical Corp against the agency’s previous decision that volatile organic compound (VOC) emissions generated from non-manufacturing activities at Formosa Plastics’ naphtha cracker in Yunlin County’s Mailiao Township (麥寮) are sources of pollutants subject to VOC limits.
Dissatisfied with the EPA’s decision, Wu questioned the appropriateness of the role of the EPA in policy decisions about the nation’s industrial development. In this case, of the 21 members of the environmental impact assessment committee, “eight are not specialists in air pollution problems,” Wu said. “When they lack professionalism in the area, how can we expect them to make a correct decision?”
In response, Chen said the Cabinet would conduct a review of the environmental impact assessment system next month.
“The review is already on the agenda,” Chen said.
Now the EPA has not exactly been known for being the most pro-active Government department, especially when it comes to halting or preventing development projects that potentially significantly harm the environment or people’s health. But that’s not enough for Chen and Wu who, shilling for big business and developers, want to make it a body that can’t stop development but only ‘prevent and mitigate’ potential adverse effects that development might have on the environment. No, they aren’t going to amend the EIA Act to include an EPA mandate to halt harmful development but rather declaw the EPA so it doesn’t get in the way of the developer and his profits.
Because big development projects and pouring concrete on everything as a balm for an ailing and unresponsive economy is about as imaginative as Taiwanese Government gets. Corporatist Government is Corporatist I guess.