Update: State Environmental Protection Agency Shuts Down 30 Construction Projects, Overcomes Resistance from the Three Gorges Development Corporation

November 9, 2005

Since mid-January, the State Environmental Protection Agency (SEPA) has worked to halt 30 construction projects that it identified as violating the Environmental Impact Assessment Law. Recent reports show that all of the projects have stopped construction, including three projects being built by the Three Gorges Development Corporation (TGDC).

On February 1, the Beijing News reported that SEPA has issued two notices demanding that the TGDC halt three of its hydroelectric construction projects. The three projects were among the 30 projects nationwide that SEPA found in violation of the Environmental Impact Assessment Law. According to the article, the notices say that failure to comply could result in fines ranging from 50,000 to 200,000 Yuan. Individuals responsible for the projects may receive disciplinary sanctions. On February 2 Legalinfo reported that all 30 of the projects had ceased construction, suggesting SEPA enforcement efforts are having some success.

The article reports that all three TGDC projects will undergo environmental impact assessments in accordance with the "Notice on Environmental Protection During the Construction of Hydroelectric Dams" issued jointly by SEPA and the National Development Reform Commission (NDRC). On January 27 in a South China Morning Post article (Subscription Only) TGDC officials explained their decision not to stop construction by citing NDRC support. Another February 2 Legalinfo article reports SEPA and NDRC issued the notice jointly on January 26. This notice suggests that SEPA and NDRC have decided to cooperate on this issue, and that pro-environmental forces have successfully obtained high-level support for their efforts.