Fri, Apr 20, 2007 - Page 2 News List

Environment impact review group seeks more independence

By Shelley Shan  /  STAFF REPORTER

Six members serving on the environmental impact review committee of the Environmental Protection Administration (EPA) asked the Executive Yuan yesterday to "get its hands off" the supposedly independent group.

"Since last year, the Executive Yuan has treated committee members as if they were stumbling blocks to investment," the six members -- who are also representatives from different non-governmental organizations -- said in a statement.

"To facilitate the passage of environmental assessment reviews, the Executive Yuan has asked the members to streamline their review procedures and restricted the scope of their reviews," they said.

"The measure obviously treats members of the review committee as nothing more than rubber-stampers," the statement said. "We believe it has done more damage to the entire environmental impact review system than to the image of the committee members."

Five of the committee members held a press conference yesterday to express their dissatisfaction with the intrusiveness of the nation's highest administrative authority.

Committee member Gloria Hsu (徐光蓉), who also serves as chairwoman of the Taiwan Environmental Protection Union, said the Executive Yuan had to address several questions.

Officials have to explain why energy consumption has increased when many industries have chosen to move their operations abroad, she said. Another question it needs to answer is who should pay for the damage caused by pollution, such as the recent dioxin incident in Tainan.

Robin Winkler, founder of the Wild at Heart Legal Defense Association and a committee member, said Taiwan had approved the establishment of many factories in its effort to reduce the unemployment rate, but the job opportunities created are available to foreign workers rather than Taiwanese.

He claimed that a million "dignified" jobs would be created if the government shored up the economy with a view to making it a sustainable one.

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