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Cablegate: Taiwan Epa: Focus On Eia and Climate Change

VZCZCXRO4493
RR RUEHHM RUEHLN RUEHMA RUEHPB RUEHPOD
DE RUEHIN #1440/01 1760603
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 250603Z JUN 07
FM AIT TAIPEI
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 5782
INFO RUEHZN/ENVIRONMENT SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY COLLECTIVE
RUEHBJ/AMEMBASSY BEIJING 6962
RUEHJA/AMEMBASSY JAKARTA 4093
RUEHUL/AMEMBASSY SEOUL 8748
RUEHKO/AMEMBASSY TOKYO 8894
RUEHHM/AMCONSUL HO CHI MINH CITY 0106

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 TAIPEI 001440

SIPDIS


SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

OES/EGC FOR TRIGG TALLEY
STATE PASS EPA/OIA K. MCASKILL

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: SENV ECON PREL CH TW
SUBJECT: TAIWAN EPA: FOCUS ON EIA AND CLIMATE CHANGE

TAIPEI 00001440 001.2 OF 002


1. (SBU) SUMMARY. USEPA Associate Program Manager for
China/East Asia Kelly McAskill visited Taiwan on June 11-15
to discuss ongoing programs with Taiwan and to plan for the
next Conference on Issues of Common Concern, which is planned
for August 13-16 in Hawaii and will address transboundary
pollution issues. The USEPA and Taiwan EPA (TEPA) altogether
have 16 cooperative projects covering aspects of air quality
monitoring, hazardous wastes, indoor air quality, marine and
port pollution and water quality. McAskill told TEPA that
the USEPA would focus future cooperation on transboundary
pollution issues as they are of mutual concern.
Newly-appointed TEPA minister Winston Dang said his priority
was revising the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA)
process to make it more responsive and transparent. He
expressed a wish to visit Washington DC after the proposed
EPA conference in mid-August. AIT also scheduled a meeting
with local NGO's to hear their complaints about the EIA
process, which in their view is becoming more exclusive. END
SUMMARY.

MEETING WITH TEPA MINISTER DANG
-------------------------------

2. (SBU) AIT ESTHOFF and USEPA Associate program manager
Kelly McAskill met with newly-appointed TEPA minister Winston
Dang on June 11 to discuss his priorities for TEPA and
bilateral cooperation. Dang said he spent 15 years through
2005 working at USEPA on risk assessment issues and that the
EIA process is one of his priorities. He noted that the EIA
members were not experts in environmental issues and hoped to
attract more experts to conduct assessments. He also said
the EIA process needed to be more transparent. In addition,
Dang observed that he recently traveled to Penghu and
observed that the island's garbage disposal sites are
limited. As a result, he wants to help them find a more
permanent solution, since transport to Taiwan proper is
subject to weather conditions. Dang also expressed interest
in regional office development to expand TEPA's scope.
McAskill told Dang that USEPA's international work in Asia
emphasizes environmental impacts to the global environment
and the United States, such as transboundary air pollution.
McAskill also explained that the EPA's office of
International Affairs is conducting a priority setting
exercise due to budget cuts and the management of the Taiwan
program-like all other programs - is under discussion.

3. (SBU) Local pollution concerns will be less of a USEPA
focus and emphasis will shift to international issues (NOTE:
Currently, EPA has a number of air quality monitoring
projects with TEPA covering transboundary movement of
pollutants such as mercury, aerosols and carbon emissions.
END NOTE) TEPA officials said Taiwan ranks 21st in the world
for overall CO2 emissions and has undertaken to reduce CO2
emissions, although it is not part of the Kyoto Protocol.
Taiwan is also interested in carbon exchange regimes that
will allow it to trade CO2 emissions with other countries,
but because it is not part of the UN system it has yet to
find the mechanism to reach this goal.

TAIWAN NGO'S: EIA PROCESS FLAWED
--------------------------------

4. (SBU) On June 13, AIT arranged a meeting with local
NGO's to get their views on Taiwan environmental issues.
Participants included: Robin Winkler, a lawyer with many
years experience in environmental issues and a member of the
Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) of TEPA; Gloria Hsu,
Chair of Taiwan's Environmental Protection Union, as well as
a member of TEPA's EIA team; and Chao Chia-wei, member of the
Taiwan Environmental Action Network (TEAN). The NGO's all
agreed that Taiwan's EIA process needs revising to make it
more inclusive, transparent and not subject to the whims of
political interests. Currently, there are three major public
infrastructure projects in the pipeline, a steel plant and
naphtha cracker plant for Yunlin County in Southern Taiwan,
and the superhighway project linking Hualien with Suao on the
east coast. Each, however, is stalled due to environmental
controversy. Winkler mentioned that in one EIA case
concerning the steel plant in Yunlin County - which could
produce 20 million tons of annual emissions, place a heavy
burden on water use and endanger the local ecosystem - TEPA
officials suggested that five EIA members opposed the project

TAIPEI 00001440 002.2 OF 002


to "recuse" themselves so that the project could be approved.
There are also indications that TEPA may not renew the EIA
memberships of those EIA members unwilling to limit their
opposition to the major projects currently proposed. Hsu
said that some members of the Executive Yuan believe they can
dispense with the EIA process altogether and just hire legal
experts. The NGO's also noted that coal-fired plants in the
PRC were the main source of the acid rain over Taiwan. This
problem will worsen if Taiwan builds more coal-fired power
plants in the future.

MOTOR VEHICLE EMISSIONS WORKSHOP AND OTHER PROJECTS
--------------------------------------------- ------

5. (SBU) USEPA and TEPA have an ongoing project to hold a
vehicle emissions workshop in Southeast Asia to help
countries in the area control their vehicle emissions. TEPA
noted that Vietnam has many mopeds, and Taiwan also has a
large moped assembly factory in Vietnam, while Thailand has a
large fleet of diesel vehicles and Indonesia recently phased
out lead in its gasolines. Taiwan's expertise could be
valuable in helping those countries establish emissions
standards, vehicle inspection procedures, and fuel standards.


USEPA-TEPA ENVIRONMENT CONFERENCE
---------------------------------

4. (SBU) The Environment Conference on Issues of Common
Concern this year is scheduled for August 13-16, most likely
in Hawaii. The focus of discussion will be transboundary
pollution and climate change. TEPA informed AIT that
Minister Winston Dang wants to attend the opening session and
meet with local environmental officials and perhaps visit an
air monitoring station in Mauna Loa before continuing to
Washington, where he hopes to meet EPA Administrator Steve
Johnson, who was once his boss, as well as former EPA
Administrator and current HHS Secretary Michael Leavitt.
USEPA is laying the groundwork for the conference and
identifying experts to participate in the discussions. AIT
will be coordinating closely with USEPA and TEPA on this
conference.


YOUNG

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