Monday, September 29, 2008

Hushan Dam Update: - The citizen's suit against the EPA

On Wednesday, September 24Th, the first hearing on the citizen's suit against the Environmental Protection Administration (EPA) was held -- nearly a year and a half after our first letter! So much for justice.

The application for an injunction had earlier been refused. There was an appeal and on August 29 the Supreme Administrative Court remanded the case for further review. A hearing date has yet to be set by the High Administrative Court which is a little strange given the urgency of injunctions.

At the September 24Th hearing ten groups opposing the dam were represented by George Chen and Sanjia Lin, and the EPA had a lawyer. The hour hearing focused mostly on claims that the EPA's permission for the construction was flawed and that the EPA should cancel the permission based on illegality or in the alternative on the grounds that circumstances have changed (e.g., discovery of the Fairy Pitta's important breeding grounds, 921 earthquake induced geologic changes, and climate change.).

Overall the claim is that the EPA neglected its duty to order the work to stop on the dam -- a project we assert is proceeding illegally -- and that the major violations of the terms of the environmental impact assessment are such that they constitute "major flaws" for purposes of article 23 of the EIA Act and that the EPA therefore has the authority to shut down the project.

Interestingly the EPA's lawyer spent most of the time defending the EPA by saying things like "The EPA has been doing a good job, really it has. We have already fined the developer, the Central Water Resources Agency, twice for their misbehavior".

While it may be very difficult to stop the dam at this point, this action is helping to make a record and also perhaps demonstrate that these agencies can't be so cavalier in the future.

The next hearing on the merits is on October 22ND, 2008.

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