CHINA LEGAL REFORMS SEEK MORE TRANSPARENCY, ENFORCEMENT
On April 24, China passed the most significant changes to its environmental protection laws in 25 years. The new rules will encourage public participation and open information, according to UCLA law professor Alex Wang, and will impose much tougher penalties on polluters. In addition to levying consecutive daily fines on polluters who don’t make improvements, the amendments will allow non-government groups to file lawsuits for environmental damage and will create channels for whistleblowers to make environment-related appeals. Furthermore, whereas previously it might cost a polluter less to pay fines than to install new pollution controls, under the new law company officials could be detained for up to 15 days if they fail to complete an environmental impact assessment or continue to pollute after being asked to stop. According to Barbara Finamore, senior attorney and Asia director at the Natural Resources Defense Council, the new laws will provide a "strong incentive for polluters to come into compliance.” The amendments will take effect January 1, 2015. See http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2014-04-24/china-enacts-biggest-pollution-curbs-in-25-years.html.