Poor air quality has plagued central and southern Taiwan for many years. Citizen of the Earth, Taiwan and lawmakers held a joint press conference on Sept. 12 at which they criticized the Ministry of Economic Affairs (MOEA), saying that the ministry has not adhered to the Air Pollution Control Act by not joining up with the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to announce that the air pollution emissions in central and southern Taiwan is controlled through a total quantity control system. They also said that this was one of the main causes of the air pollution problem in the region.
Citizen of the Earth, Taiwan deputy secretary-general Wang Min-ling says that the act was promulgated in 1975, and even though an amendment which included a total quantity control system was added in 1999, it stipulates that the EPA and the MOEA must announce the measures together. Central and southern Taiwan has many factories that are causing serious pollution, and once a total quantity control system is enforced they would have to reduce the amount of pollution they are emitting. Wang said that the MOEA’s passive attitude has allowed the region’s air pollution problem to grow increasingly serious over the years.
The pollution standards index (PSI) is based on the density of particulate matter, sulfur dioxide, nitrogen dioxide, carbon monoxide and ground-level ozone in the air on a particular day, all calculated as subsets, while the largest subset value is the given PSI for that day.
Wang says that from January to August this year the pollution index in the center and south was poor as much as 73.91 percent of the time. Looking at last year, Greater Taichung, Changhua, Nantou, Yunlin and Pingtung counties had good air to breathe less than 50 percent of the year, while Chiayi County, Greater Tainan and Greater Kaohsiung were all below 30 percent, meaning they only had good air to breathe on three out of every 10 days, posing a serious threat to people’s health in the region.
Lawmakers Lin Chia-lung and Chao Tien-lin say that during the next legislative session they will work hard to push amendments to the act, abolishing the section of the act which states that emissions caps must be enforced in conjunction with the MOEA.
The MOEA’s Industrial Development Bureau said on Sep. 12 that the EPA currently exercises partial control over emissions, and that the MOEA is not opposed to adhering to the act and enforcing emission cap regulations, but says that the government agencies involved must equally weigh all factors concerning the environment and economic development. If total control over emissions went into effect, the toll on industry development and society as a whole would be formidable, the MOEA says.
(Liberty Times, Translated by Kyle Jeffcoat)