On September 11, 2020, the Ministry of Ecology and Environment of China announced the Guidance on Optimization and Improvement of Environmental Protection Enforcement (draft for comments) to collect opinions. Comments were received until September 30, 2020.
The guidance listed 20 measures to optimize the enforcement of environmental protection, the important ones of which are described below.
Standardization of on-site inspections
General as well as specific on-site inspections will be conducted to raise the clearance rate of environmental regulation violations.
The “Dual Randomization and Single Disclosure” system
In this system, both the inspector and subject company will be selected randomly for an inspection, and its result and the penalty will be disclosed immediately by the administrative department in charge. The system will be incorporated into all on-site inspections.
Classification-based management of companies will be implemented. Companies with low compliance ratings or with frequent standard violations detected by automatic monitoring will be added to the Special Pollution Source Monitoring Database and inspected more often.
Law enforcement using mobile devices
Mobile devices will be used for all law enforcement operations, which enable dynamic updates of law enforcement information files and real-time recording of all law enforcement processes.
Strict implementation of the “Three Systems”
The “Three Systems” will be promoted comprehensively: it refers to the Administrative Law Enforcement Disclosure System, Law Enforcement Operations Complete Recording System and Law Enforcement Major Case Decisions Review System.
Standardized scope of administrative discretion in punishment
The scope of administrative discretion will be standardized. Punishment may be reduced or canceled if violators take steps to neutralize or mitigate the impact of their illegitimate acts.
Regions such as Jing-Jin-Ji (Beijing, Tianjin and Hebei province) and the Yangtze Delta (Shanghai, southern Jiangsu province and Northern Zhejiang province) will be encouraged to have a common regional standard for scope of discretion. According to an official, this measure would have significant importance in preventing unfair competition caused by different scopes of administrative discretion among markets.
Strengthened law enforcement using automated monitoring
Automated monitoring data of pollution sources will be utilized more to carry out administrative punishment for strict law enforcement against monitoring-data-related misconduct.
IoT (Internet of Things) will be used to perform video monitoring as well as water and power use monitoring, automatically issuing preemptive warnings of abnormal pollutant discharge.
The original text of the draft guidance can be viewed at this link (in Simplified Chinese).