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Cablegate: Epa General Counsel Martella Talks Environmental Law In

VZCZCXRO0593
RR RUEHCN RUEHGH RUEHVC
DE RUEHGZ #1095/01 2710839
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 280839Z SEP 07
FM AMCONSUL GUANGZHOU
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 6501
INFO RUEHOO/CHINA POSTS COLLECTIVE
RUEAIIA/CIA WASHDC
RUEKJCS/DIA WASHDC
RUEAEPA/HQ EPA WASHDC
RUCPDOC/DEPT OF COMMERCE WASHDC
RUEATRS/DEPT OF TREASURY WASHDC

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 GUANGZHOU 001095

SIPDIS

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: SENV ECON PGOV CH
SUBJECT: EPA General Counsel Martella Talks Environmental Law in
Guangzhou


1. (U) SUMMARY: Inadequate fines for polluters and lack of funding
for inspectors have made punishment of environmental violations
difficult in south China, according to local environmental
officials. Public complaints about the quality of the environment
are on the rise, and the proliferation of private automobiles
continues to be a challenge. Chinese officials told U.S.
Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) General Counsel Roger Martella
that they were interested in U.S. approaches to environmental
protection and want to increase interaction with EPA. END SUMMARY.

The Cost of Doing Business
--------------------------

2. (SBU) There is a popular saying in China that "the cost of
environmental compliance is high and the cost of breaking the law is
low," according to Wu Hongjie, Director of the General Office of
Environmental Inspection of the Guangdong Environmental Protection
Bureau (EPB). On September 3, 2007, Wu told General Counsel Martella
that the RMB 100,000 maximum fine for a single case is widely
considered by polluters to be a cost of doing business. He said such
fines do not deter factories because an owner can make up the cost
after only one day of illegally discharging untreated water. Wu also
complained that low levels of funding mean that fewer than 2,000 of
the approximately 9,000 "environmental police" under his direction
are available for site inspections. The rest have only
administrative duties.

Complaints on the Rise
----------------------

3. (SBU) Public complaints about the environment were on the rise,
according to Zheng Zewen, Chief of the Policies and Regulations
Division of Guangzhou Environmental Protection Bureau. Last year,
the city registered 18,000 complaints, which accounted for three
percent of complaints nationwide and 24 percent of complaints in the
province. Of these, 87 percent were related to waste gas and dust
from factories and noise from construction sites and vehicles. Zheng
also pointed out that China has a 24-hour environmental complaint
hotline.

4. (SBU) Zheng believes that Guangzhou has done "a good job" of
cutting pollution while maintaining economic growth. He noted that
Guangzhou's 2004 GDP was RMB 440 billion and SO2 concentration was
0.077mg/ml. In 2006, the city's GDP reached RMB 680 billion, but SO2
concentration dropped to 0.053mg/ml. In addition, Zheng said the
city's annual sulfur-removal capacity grew from less than 20,000
tons in 2004 to 98,000 tons in 2006.

5. (SBU) Zheng predicted that vehicle emissions would continue to be
a major environmental challenge. The number of cars on the road in
Guangzhou recently passed the one-million mark, and vehicle
emissions contribute 40 percent of air pollutants in the city. The
municipal government hopes that advanced technology, including the
use of cleaner fuels, will help to alleviate the problem.

Looking to the United States for Ideas
--------------------------------------

6. (SBU) Both provincial and municipal officials showed interest in
Martella's presentation on U.S. environmental law and the increasing
use of environmental conflict resolution or "alternative dispute
resolution" (ADR). The Chinese officials all expressed eagerness to
increase cooperation with the U.S. EPA. Academics also took
advantage of the visit to learn more about the U.S. system. Dean of
the Sun Yat-sen University Law School Liu Heng, whose work
concentrates on China's administrative remedy system, asked about
the issue of legal standing to bring suit in U.S. environmental
cases. Sun Yat-sen University professor Li Lei requested that
General Counsel Martella outline environmental protection strategies
for rural areas in the United States.

The Role of SEPA's South China Center
-------------------------------------

7. (U) Yuan Dongling, Deputy Director General of the State
Environmental Protection Agency (SEPA) South China Center, explained
that his office, which was established in July 2006, is one of six
regional centers throughout China. Though the Center is relatively
new, Yuan said that it had already inspected 500 factories and was
actively involved in inter-provincial environmental dispute
resolutions. Future expansion plans include a staff increase from
the 30 current workers to 65 employees, and the naming of two vice
directors general. Yuan highlighted the challenge of protecting the
environment while maintaining economic growth and also noted
considerable room for improvement in funding levels and the legal

GUANGZHOU 00001095 002 OF 002


framework.

8. (U) The EPA delegation reviewed this cable before transmission.

GOLDBERG

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