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UPDATED: April 23, 2014
Environmental Law Amendment Ready for Vote: Lawmakers

Members of the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress (NPC) deliberated on draft revisions to China's Environmental Protection Law on Tuesday, saying the draft is "mature" and that it is ready to be put to a vote.

Lawmakers held that the draft amendment, as the country's basic environmental law, is a good response to public expectations. The measures it proposes are feasible and well-considered.

Zhang Dejiang, chairman of the NPC Standing Committee, participated in the deliberation on Tuesday morning.

The draft, lawmakers said, has properly handled the relations between environmental protection and economic development.

They approved of how it places more responsibility on local governments and law enforcement departments, sets higher environmental protection criteria for enterprises and gives harsher punishments for wrongdoing.

They also noted the draft's provisions on honing citizens' awareness of environmental protection, and how it provides smooth and orderly channels for the public to make appeals on environmental subjects, reflecting the idea that environment-related social problems should be tackled through legal means.

The lawmakers held that tackling pollution cannot be done in one action. It will be a long-term process, demanding common efforts from the whole society.

China's Environmental Protection Law has not been revised since it took effect in 1989.

This is the fourth time the draft amendment has been submitted for deliberation since its first reading in August 2012. It is rare in China for a law or amendment to go through three readings and not be passed, highlighting the importance of the draft in China's pursuit of sustainable development and the wide public scrutiny of the law.

(Xinhua News Agency April 22, 2014)

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