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UPDATED: June 25, 2015
Lawmakers Mull Stricter Air Pollution Control Law

Chinese legislators are deliberating on regulating emissions from boats and ships as the country clamps down on air pollution.

According to a draft amendment to the Air Pollution Law, tabled to the National People's Congress (NPC) Standing Committee for a second reading Wednesday, ships on inland or river-to-sea waterways must use standard diesel as fuel to cut emissions.

Ocean-going vessels will also be required to use fuels that conform to China's environmental protection standards after stopping at Chinese ports, the draft reads.

The shipping sector accounted for around 8.4 percent of China's sulphur dioxide emissions and 11.3 percent of nitrogen oxide emissions in 2013.

The country is also home to eight of the world's 10 largest ports in terms of cargo handling capacities.

According to the draft, vessels at berth should operate on land-based power provided by the ports. Ports, both new and existing, must be equipped with shore power facilities, it added.

The draft law amendment comes as China continues trying to rein in rampant air pollution.

One year after the world's second-largest economy "declared war" on pollution after decades of pursuing growth at the expense of air, water and soil quality, air pollution has risen as one of the top concerns of Chinese citizens, particularly those living in big, industrial cities in the center and east of the country.

According to a communique released by the Ministry of Environmental protection earlier this month, only 16 of the 161 major Chinese cities subject to air quality monitoring met the national standard for clean air in 2014.

The other 145 failed to meet the new standard, which was implemented in 2013 and includes a PM2.5 index for monitoring airborne particles measuring less than 2.5 micrometers in diameter. The tiny PM 2.5 can go deep into the lungs, thus posing a greater health threat than PM 10.

The new Environmental Protection Law, which went into effect on January 1 this year, introduced much heavier punishments for pollution violations, and promised to name and shame enterprises found to have broken the law.

A daily fine system was also introduced to punish offenders and motivate companies to expedite the costly modifications needed to reduce pollutants. In cases where fined violators fail to rectify the problem, the fine can increase without limit.

Wednesday's draft amendment also brought with it tougher penalties for law-breaking polluters.

Major polluters that fail to truthfully publish their pollution data would be fined for up to 200,000 yuan ($32,200) and may be closed down by authorities should they refuse to rectify the problem.

The same penalties would apply to those who illegally occupy or damage environmental quality and air pollutant emissions monitoring facilities.

Companies or government departments that burn substandard coal -- a major source of air pollution in China -- as fuel would also be fined one to three times the value of the coal used, the draft read.

(Xinhua News Agency June 24, 2015)

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