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Mon, May 01, 2000 - Page 3 News List

Greens uneasy over Lin joining the official fold

THORNY PROBLEM With the appointment of a former green activist to the Environmental Protection Administration, many activists now are worried the government may water down their movement

By Chiu Yu-tzu  /  STAFF REPORTER

In 1994, members of the Taiwan Environmental Protection Union (台灣環保聯盟) compiled a series of articles criticizing Taiwan's existing energy policies in a book titled Nuclear Power Nightmares (核電夢魘), to highlight the dangers of nuclear power plants.

Few would have believed that just six years later, one of the contributing authors would become the most influential governmental official in charge of protecting the environment.

Lin Jun-yi (林俊義), a former chairman of Taiwan Greenpeace and a biologist at Tunghai University, was designated Administrator of the Environmental Protection Administration (EPA) last weekend.

The 1994 article written by Lin was called "Incompetent [government] Wants Nuclear Energy -- a comparison between Taiwan's AEC [Atomic Energy Council] and the US' NRC [Nuclear Regulatory Commission, 無能卻要核能 -- 比較台的原子能委員會與美國核能管委員會]."

In the piece, Lin argued the AEC should set stricter regulations than those in the US because of Taiwan's fragile ecological environment, unstable geological structure, high density of population distribution, and dramatic climatic changes.

Regarded by local environmentalists as the "environmental godfather of Taiwan (台灣環境教父)," Lin has been admired both here and abroad for his decade-long contribution toward disseminating ideas on environmental protection and ecological conservation, having served as a research fellow in Asia, US, Europe and Africa.

PRO-ACTIVIST AGENDA

Predictably, some TEPU members welcomed the decision to appoint their long-term battle companion as head the EPA, and said they believe Lin will keep a close eye on the environmental impact of future controversial projects.

Other members, however, expressed doubts that Lin's position at the relatively low key EPA would make much of a difference to the progress of Taiwan's nascent environmental movement.

Moreover, some said they did not think the new DPP-led government would be able to take quick and affirmative action to put a stop to projects already underway, such as the fourth power plant in Kungliao, Taipei county.

"We have not won a final victory in the anti-nuclear battle, although we did help the DPP in winning the presidential election," said former TEPU head, Chang Kuo-lung (張國龍), at a meeting of the Taiwan Environmental Protection Union (台灣環保聯盟) last weekend.

"As anti-nuclear activists, we will fight for our goals in any case," Chang said, adding that it was largely irrelevant which government held power.

FRIENDS OR FOES?

In reaction to the uncertainties caused by the change in administration, the mood of nuclear campaigners has generally been somber and no clear consensus has emerged on the part of environmental organizations about what stand or actions they will take toward the issues of the day.

Members of other groups were pessimistic about maintaining the kinds of ties established during Lee Teng-hui's (李登輝) presidency and are preparing instead for battle.

Still others said the environmental movement would have to send emissaries to the team led by DPP president-elect Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁), to establish relations with the new government.

Practically alone among these groups is the TEPU -- formed in 1988, one year after the lifting of martial law -- which already has good relations with the DPP.

In the 1980's environmentalism was just one of many diverse and wide-ranging social reform movements, that were concerned with everything from political democratization to labor rights.

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