China SEPA is Promoted

China’s government is boosting the authority of its long-toothless environmental watchdog agency in an attempt to rein in the rampant pollution wrought by rapid economic development. The State Environmental Protection Agency, known as SEPA, is on track to be promoted to a full-fledged Cabinet ministry. Under the plan, SEPA would become the Ministry of Environment, said Hongjun Zhang, a former SEPA official and environmental law expert, and Lo Sze Ping of Greenpeace in Beijing.
Environmental degradation has fouled the air in cities and poisoned farmland and water sources, sparking protests at home and spoiling China’s relations abroad.
Zhang said SEPA’s staff could be increased to 300 or 400, and that over time the body would be given more authority over local environmental bureaus, which tend to be beholden to local industries and politicians and often flout the rules.
SEPA, formed in 1998, has struggled to turn itself into a real enforcer of often ignored environmental rules. Staffed by professionals and with an outspoken deputy head, the agency has tried in recent years to shame polluters.

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