The Environmental Protection Administration (EPA) yesterday announced a draft initiative to limit air pollutants in Greater Kaohsiung and Pingtung County that sets emissions targets on new and existing factories in a bid to safeguard public health.
The initiative’s implementation would be monitored by officials from central government agencies, who would be reviewing air pollution mitigation efforts at regular interdepartmental meetings.
According to the draft, existing plants with nitrogen oxide or volatile organic compound emissions of 5 tonnes or more, as well as sulfur oxide or total suspended particulates emissions of 10 tonnes or more, would be subject to an emissions cap set by local environmental agencies. The cap would be determined by a factory’s past emissions records and unable to exceed the amount of particulates it currently emits.
Companies who want to set up new plants would be required to purchase emission quotas for each of the four pollutant categories, either from other plants or from local environmental authorities, who would offer quotas set by the amount of air pollutants reduced through mitigation efforts
“In a nutshell, the initiative aims to block any further emissions,” Department of Air Quality Protection and Noise Control Director-General Chen Hsien-heng (陳咸亨) said.
Chen said the proposal is significant as it marks the first time in 15 years that all the agencies under the Ministry of Economic Affairs that oversee the nation’s industrial and energy policies have agreed a course of action to curb emissions.
“The idea of setting a limit on air pollutants was included in the provisions of the Air Pollution Control Act (空氣汙染防制法) in 1999, but policymaking has since met with many obstacles due to differing opinions. The initiative is expected to solve the age-old problem of ambiguous emission rules,” he said.
Chen said the meetings to assess mitigation efforts would be held every three months. Officials at central government agencies, including the Industrial Development Bureau, the Bureau of Energy, the Ministry of Health and Welfare and the Ministry of Education, would give presentations, he added.
At the local level, Chen said the EPA would require environmental protection agencies to put together mitigation task forces and hold meetings with civic groups and residents to gather feedback from the public.
The rules, including those for the meetings, are expected to take effect in February, after the draft goes through public hearings and a final review by government agencies, Chen said.
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