China lawmakers propose unified environmental monitoring

December 29, 2012 8:59 am 

BEIJING, Dec. 29 — Chinese lawmakers on Friday suggested formulating an environmental monitoring law to prohibit disorderly, arbitrary monitoring of the environment.

China lacks a special law or regulation on the management of environmental monitoring, which has led to a chaotic state in which various government departments, public institutions and individuals are monitoring China's environment and releasing different data, lawmakers said in a report adopted by the top legislature on Friday.

A law should be in place to protect and regulate governments' or individuals' environmental monitoring activities, and to provide a legal basis for the act, lawmakers said in the report.

Lawmakers said a nationally-unified monitoring network is imperative to ensuring the authority of environmental monitoring results and avoiding negative social effects created by disordered and confusing data.

They suggested the central government establish the monitoring network and database and uniformly lay out monitoring sites.

They also said the heads of the monitoring agencies should be responsible for the authenticity and accuracy of the monitoring data, adding that such data must be published in a timely manner.

Environmental monitoring, especially air quality monitoring, has become a hot issue in China in the past year.

Fierce public debate has stirred since 2011 over the U.S. Embassy in Beijing and the U.S. Consulate General in Shanghai monitoring the local air quality and publishing the results online.

The results released by Beijing's weather forecasting station and the U.S. Embassy and Consulate General often differ — the latter generally report worse conditions — due to different standards for PM2.5, which measures finer particles in the air that are considered more hazardous to health.

The Chinese government has said the data issued by the foreign entities is inaccurate and unfair, as they gather data from only one point in their respective cities and measure the air quality using U.S. PM2.5 standards.

China did not include indices for ozone and PM2.5 in the revised air quality standards until late February this year.

It stipulated that the standards must be implemented nationwide by Jan. 1, 2016 and promised to lift PM2.5 standards step by step.

Starting Jan. 1, 2013, the government will issue real-time air quality monitoring data in 74 major cities, the Ministry of Environmental Protection (MEP) said Friday.

According to the report, a regulation, not a law, on environmental monitoring management has been drafted by the MEP and delivered to the State Council, China's Cabinet, for review.

Lawmakers said they hope the regulation will come out soon.

Also in the report, lawmakers proposed revising the Law on the Prevention and Control of Atmospheric Pollution to curb emissions and treat atmospheric pollution.

The law was issued in September 1987, and was revised in 1995 and 2000. (PNA/Xinhua)

LAM/RSM

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