Fri, Dec 22, 2017 - Page 3 News List

Pollution plans laudable, but not thought out: KMT

By Sean Lin  /  Staff reporter

The Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) caucus yesterday commended the Executive Yuan’s goal to end the manufacturing of vehicles that run on fossil fuels, but raised doubts over Premier William Lai’s (賴清德) pledge to halve the number of days with dangerous levels of air pollution by 2019.

The Ministry of Economic Affairs in May said that it plans to raise the proportion of coal in the nation’s energy generation from 45 to 50 percent, before driving it down to 30 percent by 2025, when nuclear energy is set to be phased out and supplanted by natural gas as the system’s base load energy supply.

“Lai’s goal is more of a grand statement than a workable plan, as 2019 is just around the corner,” KMT caucus secretary-general Lin Wei-chou (林為洲) said, urging Lai to elaborate on how he intends to attain the goal.

It would be difficult for the Democratic Progressive Party to realize its “nuclear-free homeland” policy of eliminating nuclear energy by 2025 due to ecological issues associated with the construction of liquified natural gas (LNG) terminals, Lin said, citing a proposed LNG terminal off the coast of Datan Borough (大潭) in Taoyuan’s Guanyin District (觀音) that has not yet passed an environmental impact assessment.

KMT caucus deputy secretary-general Lee Yen-hsiu (李彥秀) lauded the Executive Yuan’s goals, but said that it should not neglect stationary sources of air pollution, such as naphtha crackers and industrial parks, urging it to lay down specific plans to cut both stationary and mobile sources of air pollution.

Air pollution has worsened since the beginning of winter, sparking public complaints, but the Cabinet is unlikely to improve the situation if it makes promises “in a knee-jerk reaction” without thinking them through, she said.

The Environmental Protection Administration (EPA) in December last year replaced the old index for air pollution with the Air Quality Index (AQI), which gauges air pollution on a color-coded scale between zero and 500, KMT vice secretary-general Chiang Wan-an (蔣萬安) said.

Lai vowed to halve the days on which air pollution hits the “red” level, but as the new index factors in more pollutants — including sulfur oxides, nitrous oxides and airborne particles measuring less than 2.5 micrometers (PM2.5) — the figures are now diluted and pollution that would have triggered the most critical “purple alert” in the past often triggers less severe “red alerts” now, Chiang said.

The EPA should revise its air pollution index before the end of the year, as it has promised, he added.

Chiang urged the Executive Yuan to come up with accompanying measures for its goals to phase out vehicles that run on gasoline and diesel.

For example, the government could formulate a plan to build charging docks and set a ceiling on the number of electric vehicles to be imported if the nation’s electric vehicle manufacturing industry cannot meet the demand spurred by the deadlines, Chiang said.

The Cabinet should not be content with “chanting slogans,” but should rather tell the public how much air pollution the Cabinet’s plans would reduce, he said.

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