Fri, May 25, 2007 - Page 4 News List

EPA has to stop project, alliance says

60 DAYS Environmental advocates demanded that the agency halt the building of the Hushan Reservoir, claiming it's too lenient with businesses

By Angelica Oung  /  STAFF REPORTER

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) should stop the Hushan Reservoir (湖山水庫) project within 60 days or face legal action, an alliance of environmental advocates demanded yesterday.

Lin San-chia (林三加), chair of Environmental Law Committee of the Taipei Bar Association, and others, including Robin Winkler, director of the Wild at Heart Legal Defense Association, made their way to the front of the agency's building where they presented Fan Da-vid (范大維) of the EPA with a letter of demands giving the EPA 60 days to "take appropriate action" over the Hushan situation before they take legal action.

Fan declined to join the group in chanting "Love Taiwan, say no to Hushan Dam."

"The Environmental Impact Assessment for the project was officially completed in 2000, making it seven years old," Lin said. "This is in direct contravention of the 16th statute of the Environmental Impact Assessment Act (環境影響評估法), which calls for a re-evaluation of all Environmental Impact Assessments older than three years before a project can go forward."

The groups also maintain that the area in question has been listed by the animal welfare organization BirdLife International as one of the most important nesting sites for the endangered fairy pitta.

These facts were also neglected in the 2000 Environmental Impact Assessments, rendering the survey flawed, Lin said.

Chang Kow-lung (張國龍) last Friday threatened to sue Winkler for "slanderous remarks against the EPA" after Winkler, who is also a member of the Environmental Impact Assessments Committee, said the agency was on the side of business rather than the environment.

Winkler, however, did not play up the role reversal yesterday. Instead, he apologized for any tactlessness.

"I did not grow up in Taiwan and I am still ignorant of many Taiwanese ways," Winkler said, "Maybe my choice of words was unfortunate."

However, Winkler did not back down from his claim that the EPA has been fighting for the business community not the environment.

"The EPA sees its function and the function of the commissioners as passing cases as quickly as possible," Winkler said.

Edward Huang (黃光輝), director-general of the EPA's department of comprehensive planning, disputed that Environmental Impact Assessments for the reservoir site is out of date, saying that the supporting infrastructure has already been built within the three-year limit even though construction has yet to take place.

"[Environmental Impact Assessments Committee] members need to remember that they are an advisory body consulted for their expertise," he said.

Winkler said even the number of projects passed by this Environmental Impact Assessments Committee -- considered so touchy that it was termed the "obstacle" committee -- would result in a more than 40 percent increase in carbon dioxide emitted by Taiwan if they were all developed.

"We need to focus on a sustainable and long-term economy, not a short term economic vision limited to the length of a presidential or legislative term," he said.

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