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Interpretations to the Decision on Abolishment of Some Departmental Rules and Normative Documents for Environmental Protection

In order to comprehensively deepen the reform, promote sound and rapid economic and social development in our country, timely reflect functional changes of departments, promote the government administration according to law, and ensure the unity of the socialist legal system, in accordance with the requirements of the Circular of the General Office of the State Council on Issues concerning Straightening out the Administrative Regulations and the Departmental Rules and Documents, the Ministry of Environmental Protection straightened out all of its departmental rules and documents, and decided to abolish 10 departmental rules and 121 pieces of normative documents. In order to facilitate the environmental protection departments at all levels and all walks of life to correctly understand the straightening-out of departmental rules and documents, a reporter with CENEWS interviewed Bie Tao, Deputy Director General of Department of Policies, Laws and Regulations of Ministry of Environmental Protection.

Q: what are the criteria for abolishing these rules and regulatory documents?

Answer: According to the principle that an inferior law must comply with superior laws, Ministry of Environmental Protection shall abolish the following regulations and normative documents: first, the laws that are not conducive to steady growth, further reform, structural adjustment, and the improvement of people's livelihood; second, the laws whose main contents are against and conflict with the current effective laws and administrative regulations and the spirit; third, the laws with the obvious characteristics of the planned economy and without distinction between government and enterprises, government and institutions , and government and social organizations, not adapted to the requirements of socialist market economy and the World Trade Organization (WTO) rules, and undermining socialism market economy rules, and for other reasons that obviously cannot meet the needs of the reality; fourth, there are new regulations, or the laws do not need to continue the enforcement because the targeted objects have disappeared, the work tasks have been completed, or the application period has expired.

Taking into account the complementarity issue after the abolition, the regulations and documents that are not covered or link with the subsequent laws and regulations or relevant provisions are not included in the scope of the abolition.

Q: which documents are normative documents?

Answer: "Environmental protection normative documents” mainly refer to the repeatedly applicable documents with universal binding force. They are formulated and promulgated by Ministry of Environmental Protection (including the State Environmental Protection Administration, the National Environmental Protection Agency) according to the statutory authority and procedures in order to enforce the provisions of the environmental protection laws, regulations, rules and the State Council normative documents. They are concerned with the rights and obligations of the target persons of environmental protection management.

The State Council documents that are forwarded by the Ministry, the documents related to the development of internal management institutions, and documents on the inspection and deployment of specific tasks are not treated as normative documents in this round of straightening-out.

Q: what rules have been abolished? Why have they been abolished?
A: In this document clean-up, the Ministry of Environmental Protection has abolished 10 departmental rules in total, respectively:
"Administrative Measures on Urban Radioactive Wastes" released on July 16, 1987 mainly stipulates the main responsibilities, collection and transportation requirements, supervision and management, fees, and incentives and disincentives on radioactive waste and radioactive sources. After nearly thirty years of implementation, many of the contents have been out of line with the actual situation, are inconsistent with the current radioactive waste management policies, and cannot meet the current needs of radioactive waste regulatory work. In June 2003, the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress made "Radioactive Pollution Prevention and Control Law", in which the sixth chapter specifically stipulates the contents of radioactive waste management. In March 2012, the State Council issued the "Administrative Regulations on Radioactive Waste Safety", with more specific provisions on radioactive waste management principle, duties of supervision departments, classification and management of waste, radioactive waste treatment, storage and disposal requirements etc. The Ministry of Environmental Protection in December 2013 formulated Administrative Measures on Radioactive Solid Waste Storage and Disposal Licensing (Department Order No. 25). Administrative Measures on Urban Radioactive Waste and the above-mentioned laws and regulations are clearly inconsistent, and should not be implemented any more. Radioactive waste management will be implemented in accordance with relevant laws and regulations.

Interim Regulations on the Environmental Management of the Imported Wastes and Supplementary Provisions to Interim Regulations on the Environmental Management of the Imported Wastes were released on April 1st 1996 and July 26th respectively, with the main provisions on the imported waste and environmental supervision and management and so on. In December 2004, the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress amended the Solid Waste Pollution Prevention and Control Law, with specific provisions on the import of solid waste. In April 2015, the articles on the import of solid waste were amended. On April 8, 2011, the environmental protection ministry, together with relevant State departments, issued the Administrative Measures on the Import of Solid Wastes (Ministry of Environmental Protection, Ministry of Commerce, National Development and Reform Commission, the General Administration of Customs, and AQSIQ Order No.12), with more specific provisions on the licensing for the import of solid wastes, inspection and quarantine and customs procedures, supervision and penalties etc. The contents of Interim Regulations on the Environmental Management of the Imported Wastes and its Supplementary Provisions have been fully covered or replaced and will not be implemented in practice.
Administrative Measures on the Stalk Burning Prohibition and Comprehensive Utilization issued on April 16, 1999 were jointly developed by the former State Environmental Protection Administration, Ministry of Agriculture, Ministry of Finance, Ministry of Railways, Ministry of Communications, and State General Administration of Civil Aviation, with the main provisions on the stalk burning prohibited regions, department responsibility, comprehensive use and legal responsibility etc. In August 2015, the NPC Standing Committee revised Air Pollution Prevention and Control Law, with major adjustments to the content on stalk burning. Many provisions of Administrative Measures on Stalk Burning Prohibition and Comprehensive Utilization are inconsistent with the new Air Pollution Prevention and Control Law, especially in respect of the punishment subjects, punishment authority etc. For example, according to Article 8 of Administrative Measures on the Stalk Burning Prohibition and Comprehensive Utilization, those in violation of the provisions of straw burning shall be ordered to make a correction and fined at most 20 yuan by the environmental protection departments. However, the new Air Pollution Prevention and Control Law specifies that those who burn stalk in violation of the provisions shall be ordered to make corrections and be fined more than 500 yuan but less than 2000 yuan by supervision and administration departments determined by the local people's government at or above the county level. Therefore, the Administrative Measures on Stalk Burning Prohibition and Comprehensive Utilization obviously conflict with its superior law, and should not continue to be implemented. The abolishment of the said administrative measures does not mean the cease of the stalk burning prohibition and comprehensive utilization. In accordance with the new Air Pollution Prevention and Control Law and the division of responsibilities, the local government is more responsible for the stalk burning with strict supervision in accordance with Air Pollution Prevention and Control Law; as for stalk comprehensive utilization, the relevant provisions of the National Development and Reform Commission, the Ministry of Agriculture and other State departments shall be applied.
The Administrative Measures on Pollution Source Monitoring issued on November 2, 1999 mainly provides the division of responsibilities, the pollution source monitoring network, monitoring requirements, supervision and management, data applications, legal liability etc. In 2007, the State Council issued the Measures for the Monitoring of Reduction of Total Amount of Major Pollutants, and pollution source monitoring became a part of the main pollutant emissions monitoring system construction and operation and was included in the total emission reduction assessment, to serve the overall emission reduction. In 2013, according to the actual situation and needs, Ministry of Environmental Protection issued the Measures for the Pollution Sources Supervisory Monitoring and Information Disclosure by the Enterprises under Intensive Monitoring and Control of the State (on trial) and Measures for the Self-Monitoring and Information Disclosure by the Enterprises under Intensive Monitoring and Control of the State (on trial) and the monitoring of key state enterprises self-monitoring and measures for the information disclosure of (on trial) , for further integration of standardized monitoring of pollution sources. The Environmental Protection Law revised in 2014 also put forward new requirements for the pollution source monitoring information. The relevant contents of the Administrative Measures for Pollution Source Monitoring have been replaced by the new regulations, which will not be implemented in practice.
The Administrative Measures on Livestock and Poultry Breeding Pollution Control released on May 9, 2001 mainly aims at livestock and poultry farming pollution, with provisions on scope of breeding ban, EIA requirements, emission standards, pollution prevention, comprehensive utilization, legal liabilities etc. In October 2013, the State Council issued Regulation on the Prevention and Control of Pollution from Large-scale Breeding of Livestock and Poultry, making more specific provisions on the pollution prevention and control of livestock and poultry breeding and covering the relevant contents of the Administrative Measures on Livestock and Poultry Breeding Pollution Control. The provisions of the Administrative Measures are inconsistent with those of Regulation on the Prevention and Control of Pollution from Large-scale Breeding of Livestock and Poultry and shall not continue to be implemented. Livestock and poultry pollution prevention and control work will carry on in accordance with the relevant laws and regulations.  

The Administrative Measures on the Permits for Discharge of Key Water Pollutants in Huaihe River and Taihu Lake Basin (on trial) released on 2 July 2001 mainly aims at polluters within the Huaihe River and Taihu Lake basins tasked with key water pollutant total discharge control, and stipulates the implementation of key water pollutant discharge permit system. The Measures provides that the license shall be issued only in the key water pollutant total discharge control zone of Huaihe River and Taihu Lake basins, which is inconsistent with the scope determined by Water Pollution Prevention Law revised in 2008 and shall not continue to be implemented. After the Measures were abolished, the relevant work will be carried out in accordance with the Water Pollution Prevention Law, Water Pollution Prevention Action Plan as well as local regulations. 
Measures for the Prevention and Control of Environment Pollution by Discarded Hazardous Chemicals was released on August 30, 2005, with the main provisions on all aspects of environmental management requirements on the discarded hazardous chemical generation, storage, collection, transport, transfer, disposal and legal responsibility etc. Discarded hazardous chemicals are hazardous waste. Measures for the Prevention and Control of Environment Pollution by Discarded Hazardous Chemicals provides the management requirements on the discarded hazardous chemical, and the requirements are basically consistent with those made by Law of the People's Republic of China on the Prevention and Control of Environmental Pollution by Solid Waste and the State Council issued the Measures for the Administration of Permit for Operation of Hazardous Wastes. In practice the superior law may be applied. In addition, according to the Measures for the Prevention and Control of Environment Pollution by Discarded Hazardous Chemicals, if discarded hazardous chemicals contaminate any site, the environment recovery plan shall be submitted to the environmental protection department at the county level or above for approval. There isn’t any superior law that stipulates such approval, so the Decision of the State Council on Cancelling the Second Group of 152 Administrative Approval Items to be Approved by Local Governments as Designated by the Central Government (Guofa [2016] 9) canceled this item.  
Measures for the Administration of Treatment within a Prescribed Time Limit (on trial) issued on July 8, 2009 has the main provisions on the circumstances for the treatment within time limit, the implementation protocols etc. Treatment within a prescribed time limit is a temporary and interim management system of environmental management in a specific period, which doesn’t meet the requirements of the current environmental management. Environmental Protection Law revised in 2014 and the Air Pollution Prevention Law revised in 2015 provides to restrict and halt the production of pollutes for their illegal acts of discharging excessive amount of pollutants. Ministry of Environmental Protection introduced Measures for the Implementation by Competent Environmental Protection Departments of Restricting and Halting Production for Remediation (MEP Order 30) in December 2014, with more specific provisions on restricting and halting productions due to the illegal behaviors of discharging excessive amount of pollutants. The Measures may replace the Measures for the Administration of Treatment within a Prescribed Time Limit (on trial).
Registration Measures for the Environmental Management of Hazardous Chemicals (on trial) published on October 11, 2012 mainly provides the production and use of hazardous chemicals and the requirements of the environmental management registration and supervision of import and export of those chemicals. The Decision of the State Council on Cancelling the Second Group of 152 Administrative Approval Items to be Approved by Local Governments as Designated by the Central Government (Guofa[2016] 9) cancelled the core system of Registration Measures for the Environmental Management of Hazardous Chemicals (on trial), namely, “the issuance of environmental management registration certificate of dangerous chemicals”. At present, the mode of environmental management of dangerous chemicals is being adjusted, and Registration Measures for the Environmental Management of Hazardous Chemicals (on trial) is not suitable to continue to be implemented. 
Q: what are the reasons for the abolition of the 121 normative documents?
Answer: the abolished 121 documents can be roughly divided into the following categories: those with the main contents inconsistent with the provisions of the ongoing laws, administrative regulations and the spirits, such as Guidance on the Strengthening of Environmental Supervision and Management of Listed Companies; those that obviously do not meet the current management requirements or the needs of reality, such as the Notice on Issues about the Monitoring and Management of the Acceptance Check of Environmental Protection Facilities of Construction Projects; those replaced by the new regulations, such as "Notice on Strengthening the Management of the Environmental Impact Assessment Agencies and Personnel; those whose adjusted objects disappeared, such as the Notice on Clarifying Issues about "Radioisotopes and Radiation Safety License Management Measures"; those whose tasks have been completed or whose application period has expired and which need not to be valid any more, such as Notice on Further Strengthening the Implementation of the Automatic Monitoring Capacity Building Program of Key Pollution Sources in China.

(This English version is for your reference only.In case any discrepancy exists between the Chinese and English context, the Chinese version shall prevail.)

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