Fri, Apr 21, 2017 - Page 8 News List

Permit renewal is an opportunity

By Shih Chia-liang and Tu Wen-ling 施佳良,杜文苓

The review was also used to gain an understanding of the limitations of different kinds equipment and the need for maintenance and upgrades to monitoring systems, and to demand public participation in the monitoring program.

The process of approving the permit provided an excellent bargaining chip for residents. They demanded that the refinery renew and upgrade its monitoring systems and improve analysis of environmental data.

Reviews before permit renewals offer an opportunity to evaluate and tighten demands for environmental management.

The government should respond to regional environmental problems by using its discretionary powers and stop treating reviews as a formality — a matter of approval or rejection.

Instead, the permit system should be treated as an opportunity to hold plant operators accountable, and demand that they respond to local concerns and improve the local environment.

The Californian experience has showed that involving local residents in air pollution monitoring and jointly developing methods adapted to the local experience, combined with information transparency, will not only improve monitoring methods and responses to local environmental problems, it will also help rebuild public trust in the government’s environmental management.

Nothing should stop the central government and the Yunlin County Government from taking advantage of the permit extension process for the Mailiao complex to stress its commitment to environmental governance and ease the longstanding environmental problems in the coastal regions of Yunlin and Changhua counties.

Tu Wen-ling is a professor in the public administration department of National Chengchi University. Shih Chia-liang is a post-doctoral researcher in the same department.

Translated by Perry Svensson

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