Tue, Nov 20, 2018 - Page 3 News List

Legislature freezes EPA’s EIA budget

INCREASING PRESSURE:An agency official said that its processes were transparent, but still accepted lawmakers’ demand that it submit amendment proposals by next month

By Lin Chia-nan  /  Staff reporter

Lawmakers yesterday froze the Environmental Protection Administration’s (EPA) environmental impact assessment (EIA) budget for fiscal year 2019, citing its controversial approval of a gas terminal project last month.

A proposal by Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Legislator Alicia Wang (王育敏) to freeze NT$10 million (US$323,562) of the agency’s budget was approved by the Legislative Yuan’s Social Welfare and Environmental Hygiene Committee in a meeting chaired by Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Legislator Wu Kuen-yuh (吳焜裕).

The EPA last month pushed through CPC Corp, Taiwan’s plan to build a liquefied natural gas terminal in Taoyuan in a vote where the majority was provided by government representatives as a number of other EIA committee members expressed their opposition by boycotting the meeting, Wang said.

The case highlights the shortcomings of the current EIA system, and part of the agency’s budget should be frozen until it proposes plans to close the system’s loopholes and forwards draft amendments to the Environmental Impact Assessment Act (環境影響評估法) to the legislative committee, she said.

The agency followed due procedures in convening several review meetings for the project, which were also live-streamed, EPA Department of Comprehensive Planning Director-General Liu Tsung-yung (劉宗勇) said, adding that the approval process was transparent.

It has amended minor EIA regulations and would present draft amendments to the act by the end of next month, as required, he said.

However, Liu still accepted the legislative committee’s resolution.

DPP Legislator Huang Hsiu-fang (黃秀芳) proposed a cut of NT$300 million to the agency’s budget for a garbage disposal project, which she said would push it to improve the capacity of government-managed landfills.

He proposal was reserved for further discussion.

The nation’s 67 operating landfills have an average capacity of only 11.2 percent and 13 are almost saturated, Huang said.

As of August, Miaoli County had one saturated landfill, while Chiayi County and Kaohsiung each had two, Taitung County had three and Yunlin County had five, EPA data showed.

Starting from 2016, the agency has provided local governments with subsidies to improve the capacity of landfills, with Kaohsiung and Tainan, as well as Chiayi, Hsinchu and Yilan counties being the first recipients, EPA Bureau of Environmental Inspection Director-General Lee Chien-yu (李健育) said.

Up to 600,000m3 of new capacity would be added at landfills by 2021, 40 percent of which would be managed by the central government for emergency use or for non-flammable waste, Lee added.

Additional reporting by Hsiao Yu-hsin

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