Fine tuning the environmental impact assessment (EIA) process and granting more power to subcommittees are the first things incoming Environmental Protection Administration (EPA) minister Steven Shen (沈世宏) plans to do after taking the post today.
Speaking at a lunch with the press, Shen said he planned to include the work of the developers as well as environmental groups in EIA case subcommittees.
There needs to be a clearer division of labor between the EIA committee and case subcommittees, he said.
While subcommittees would judge the individual impact and consequences of construction proposals, the committee would decide whether to go ahead with construction projects based on the subcommittee’s impact analysis, he said.
Another priority of the EPA was to draft, within the next six months, the 12 policies incoming president Ma Ying-jeou’s (馬英九) environmental policy white paper, including the greenhouse gas reduction law and an energy tax law, Shen said.
In response to the media’s questions on whether the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) would reopen the Suhua Freeway case, Shen said the proposal was currently in the hands of the Ministry of Transportation and Communications.
“The controversy is not on the freeway per se, but on the direction for development in the east ... however this would be a decision made at the Cabinet level,” he said.
The arrival of new public servants means the former ones must go and a farewell party was held yesterday for the outgoing EPA Minister Winston Dang (陳重信).
Dang said the handover signified a rotation of power between parties, which was a natural and healthy thing for Taiwan’s democracy.
Quoting Winston Churchill who lost the post-war election after the Allies won World War II in 1945, Dang said: “I leave when the pub closes.”
At the farewell event, Dang listed positive environmental diplomatic work, significant river cleanups, and the stalling of major developmental projects such as the Suhua Freeway and Kuokuang Petrochemical Technology Co’s (國光石化科技) proposed chemical plant as the Democratic Progressive Party’s (DPP) environmental protection achievements.
“Construction developers should take into account the cost of [a long] EIA process ... though the EPA is not bestowed much power, we are professional and insistent on our values as well as the direction that our national development should follow,” he said.
Also, Taiwan’s recycling rate is possibly now the best in the world, he said.