Mon, May 03, 2004 - Page 2 News List

EPA action plans come under strong criticism

BAD PLANNING?Lawmakers and environmental activists say the agency's proposals are a mish-mash of old programs that are both ill-conceived and poorly explained:

By Chiu Yu-Tzu  /  STAFF REPORTER

A set of three-year action plans proposed by the Environmental Protection Administration (EPA) has come under criticism from both legislators and activists who say the plans are unrealistic and would waste NT$15 billion (US$455 million).

After the March 20 election, the EPA brought up the three-year plans and said NT$15 billion will be needed by the end of 2006 to carry out a total of six action plans related to recycling and zero waste, industrial-waste management, reduction of environmental pollutants, freedom of information, adoption of green concepts in daily life and international participation.

Legislators, however, told the Taipei Times that such a policy-making was unusual for an agency in a caretaker Cabinet between the time of a presidential election and presidential inauguration, given that the Cabinet traditionally resigns en masse before the inauguration.

There has been no word on whether EPA Administrator Chang Juu-en (張祖恩) will be reappointed.

The legislators said that the EPA appears impatient for success and the agency has organized three discussion meetings about the proposed action plan that would be held this week in the north, center and south of the country to finalize the policies.

The discussion meetings will seek input from local authorities, environmental groups and firms dealing with waste management and recycling.

According to Yang Jiao-yen (楊嬌豔), an assistant to Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Legislator Eugene Jao (趙永清), the package of three-year plans will come in for strong criticism at those meetings because they are "a combination of opportunistic policies which show a lack deliberative evaluation and reviews."

"We don't see any public participation in the policy-making," Yang told the Taipei Times.

Yang said controversial issues regarding the management of waste incinerators were barely addressed by the EPA in its plans and that the environmental-impact assessments for some of the plans had been skipped.

Taking waste management as an example, Yang said that the agency's plans focused on the establishment of facilities and factories classifying, storing and treating waste.

Jao is especially doubtful about the proposed establishment of eco-parks to attract foreign and local investment in green technology.

"From the EPA's action plans, we cannot exactly determine how much of our waste would be transformed into reusable materials after the completion of the proposed eco-parks," Jao said.

In action plans, the EPA has promised to introduce more than 40 foreign and domestic firms in green industry into eco-parks. Since January last year, the EPA has chosen four sites in Kaohsiung, Tainan, Taoyuan and Hualien counties for the eco-parks. However, efforts to attract foreign investors have been disappointing so far, including a trip to Germany by former EPA chief Hau Lung-bin (郝龍斌).

Jao questioned whether the EPA needed to heavily revise its policies about eco-parks because the output value of these parks is unknown.

Lai Wei-chieh (賴偉傑), secretary-general of the Green Citizens' Action Alliance, criticized the wording used by the EPA in its action plans.

"The EPA trickily employs slogans often used by NGOs [non-governmental organizations] to sell its set of action plans, which are basically slightly revised old policies," Lai said.

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