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MEP releases the Provisional Regulations on the Management of Pollution Permit

MEP released the Provisional Regulations on the Management of Pollution Permit (hereinafter referred to as the Provisional Regulations) recently, for the purposes of implementing the Plan of Implementation of the Pollution Permitting System for Control of Pollutants (hereinafter referred to as the Implementation Plan) and accelerate the implementation of the pollution permitting system for the control of pollutants.

As the first regulatory document in China targeting the management of pollution permitting, the Provisional Regulations specified the unified national regulations on the pollution permitting management, in accordance with the Environment Protection Law, Water Pollution Prevention and Control Law, Air Pollution Prevention and Control Law, Administrative Licensing Law, and the aforementioned Implementation Plan. Its main purpose is to walk local environmental protection departments through the application, approval, and issuing of the pollution permits. It offers pivotal support in a bid to have each and every stationary pollution source across China to have been granted with a pollution permit by the year 2020, and lays groundwork for the central government to introduce the pollution permitting regulations at the next stage.

The Provisional Regulations specifies that MEP shall prepare and release industry-specific inventories for the category-specific management of pollution permits, and advance the management of such permits on a stage-based basis. MEP shall, based on the variances in the generation, discharge, and environmental hazard level of pollutants, specify in the said inventories that the pollution permits shall be managed separately for different industries or different types of polluters of the same industry. A simpler protocol shall be followed in granting a pollution permit to a polluter that generates and discharges a smaller amount of pollutants and poses less intense environmental hazard. The competent environmental protection department at the county level shall be responsible for approving and issuing the pollution permits granted by following a simple protocol, and the competent environmental protection department at the prefectural (municipal) level shall in principle be responsible for approving and issuing the remaining pollution permits.

The Provisional Regulations specifies that a pollution permit shall state the following items: the location and number of the pollution outlet, the way of discharge, and the destination of discharge; the type of pollutant discharged, the concentration of the pollutants allowed by the permit, and the amount of the pollutants allowed by the permit; other items stipulated by the laws and regulations. Any specific requirement for the pollution discharge by polluters as described by the plans made by local people’s governments for attaining environmental quality standards within a specific period of time and the measures taken for response to heavy air pollution shall be stated in the pollution permit as well. Moreover, a pollution permit shall state the following environmental management requirements: environmental measures such as how the pollution control facilities shall be run and maintained, and how to control the random discharge; requirements for voluntary monitoring plan, the operation logs, and the implementation reports; requirements for making public the voluntary monitoring data and the implementation reports; and other matters stipulated by the laws and regulations.

The Provisional Regulations stipulates the specific procedures for the application, approval and issuing, and management of pollution permits, the application materials, and the timeframe for issuing a permit. The document clearly stipulates that a polluter shall, within a prescribed period of time, apply for and obtain a pollution permit from an authority which has the power to grant such a permit; that a polluter that owns a new project shall, prior to the project concerned is put into production or use and actually discharges any pollution, apply for and obtain a pollution permit. MEP shall develop technical specifications for the applications for and approval and issuing of pollution permits. The polluters shall, in accordance with the said technical specifications, submit the pollution permitting applications, declare the type and the concentration of the pollutants to be discharged, and estimate and declare the amount of the pollutants to be discharged. The polluters shall assume legal liabilities for the authenticity, legitimacy, and integrity of the application materials.

The Provisional Regulations emphasizes that the competent environmental protection departments shall carry out regulatory and enforcement activities on the discharge of pollution by a polluter by comparing them against the descriptions of the polluter's pollution permit. More random inspections will be conducted on a polluter that is complained about a lot and has records of serious violations and incompliances. Any behavior that is not allowed by the permit held by a polluter and revealed by the inspection shall be recorded in the business credit record announcement system. The public and news presses shall be encouraged to supervise polluters' pollution discharge behaviors.

The Regulations stipulates that the application for, and processing, review, issuing, altering, renewal, canceling, withdrawal, and reapplication of a pollution permit shall be carried out on the national pollution permit management information platform. How well a pollution permit is observed, how the authority regulates a permit, and how the public oversees a permit shall be recorded on this platform. MEP shall be responsible for the development, operation, maintenance, and management of this platform, which shall receive data entries from local platforms already established by local environmental protection departments.

(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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