March 13, 2017
by Yanmei Lin
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EPIL Typical Case #1: Taizhou Environmental Protection Association of Jiangsu Province v. Taixing Jinhui Chemical Company, et al., A Water Pollution Environmental Public Interest Litigation Case

Rutai River, Picture from Beidu Baike Wiki

Rutai River, Picture from Beidu Baike Wiki

This case is translated and summarized from the 10 Environmental Public Interest Cases promulgated by Supreme People’s Court . The original publication can be found here.

Basic Facts of the Case:

From January 2012 to February 2013, the Taixing Jinhui Chemical Company, et al., six defendants, dumped nearly 26,000 tons of acid by-product into the Rutai Canal and the Gugaman River, causing severe ecological damage. All six defendants entered contracts to sell the acid by-product at the rate of 20 to 100 yuan/per ton to companies that were not licensed to handle hazardous wastes. The plaintiff Taizhou Environmental Protection Federation (TEPF) petitioned to the court to assign environmental restoration expenses of 160,666,745 yuan (US $26 million) and 100,000 yuan (US $14,285). Continue Reading →

March 13, 2017
by Yanmei Lin
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China’s Supreme Court Releases Ten Model Environmental Public Interest Litigation Cases

SPC Press Conference Photo from Xinhua News

SPC Press Conference Photo from Xinhua News

On March 7, 2017, the Supreme People’s Court of China (SPC) released ten model/typical (典型) Environmental Public Interest Litigation (EPIL) cases. EPIL is a new type of suit that environmental social organizations (ESOs) and procuratorates can bring to the courts on behalf of the public against the conducts of pollution or ecological destruction that causes harm to social public interests. Continue Reading →

December 21, 2016
by yuzhuang
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环境司法公益培训 招募通知

logo2环境司法公益培训(以下简称“培训”)是由佛蒙特法学院(VLS),佛蒙特大学(UVM),和欧盟环境保护协会(ClientEarth)联合主办,在佛蒙特法学院举行的关于美国环境法和环境司法的培训。培训时间为2017年1月9日至2月27日。

培训将招收3至5名致力于中国环境保护事业的环保社会公益组织的法律工作者或合作公益律师参与1至2周的培训课程。佛蒙特法学院将为学员提供部分或全额奖学金用于支付学费、国际和国内交通费用和在佛蒙特学习期间的住宿费用。

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December 8, 2016
by yuzhuang
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Environmental Public Interest Litigation (EPIL) in China – Background and Overview

blog-picture

This picture is from Jiang jie, NGOs await top court ruling that may allow them to sue more easily, GLOBAL TIMES.

  1. Introduction of EPIL

Environmental Public Interest Litigation (EPIL) in China permits qualified environmental non-governmental organizations (NGOs) to file litigation to protect the public interest in safeguarding the environment and natural resources from pollution and ecological destruction. It took China almost ten years to establish the EPIL scheme in law and may take several more years to fine-tune the EPIL system through practices.

[Author’s Note: This article was originally published in The Comparative Jurist, a William & Mary Law School’s International and Comparative Law Blog. The author would like to thank the editors of the Comparative Jurist for constructive comments and editing assistance.]

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October 31, 2016
by William Schulte
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Discussing Citizen Enforcement of Clean Water Laws with the Supreme People’s Court of China

SPC1On October 14 Vermont Law School Professor and Technical Advisor to the US-Asia Partnerships for Environmental Law Jack Tuholske had the special opportunity to give a presentation on judicial and citizen enforcement of water protection laws to the Environment and Natural Resources Tribunal of the Supreme People’s Court.  Ever since China first authorized citizen enforcement of its environmental laws through litigation last year, the Supreme People’s Court has show great interest in developing and standardizing the practice of environmental public interest litigation.  Indeed, less than one week after the Environmental Protection Law amendments went into effect on January 1, 2015, the Supreme People’s Court issued a judicial interpretation of the public interest litigation provisions that addressed issues such as standing, jurisdiction, and remedies. Continue Reading →

October 6, 2016
by William Schulte
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How Contradictory Laws Are Contributing to Vietnam’s Growing Environmental Crisis

vietnam flagA recent article from Vietnamnet brings much-needed attention to the contradictions between Vietnam’s Law on Environmental Protection and its Law on Investment that are contributing to the country’s growing environmental problems. The article quotes Nguyen Manh Hien, former Deputy Minister of Natural Resources and Environment, as stating that the overlap between these two laws, “in addition to many enterprises’ neglect in environmental protection and failure in making sound [Environmental Impact Assessment] reports, has led to serious pollution.” Continue Reading →

October 2, 2016
by William Schulte
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Hundreds of Vietnamese Fishermen File Lawsuits Against Formosa Steel

formosa protest photo

Photo Credit: AFP

Protests targeted at the Formosa Ha Tinh Steel Company erupted again today as thousands of Vietnamese citizens surrounded the company’s $10.6 billion USD plant, “some scaling walls and holding signs demanding its closure.”  The protests are a response to one of the worst ecological disasters Vietnam has experienced in decades.

In April, fishermen and residents along four coastal provinces (Ha Tinh, Quang Tri, Quang Binh, and Hue) began to witness unprecedented fish kills as thousands upon thousands of fish washed ashore.  At the time, the Vietnam Directorate of Fisheries was quoted as saying that “the total loss reached 4.7 billion dong (around $200,000 USD) in less than one week, including 37,200 brood fish, 900,000 brood shrimps, and 200,000 brood clams in Ha Tinh Province.  Hue has also lost 5,900 brood fishes.”  Almost immediately suspicion was directed at the Formosa steel plant, which is located along the coast in Ha Tinh Province. Thousands of protesters staged demonstrations against Formosa throughout the country, with some being broken up by police.  The company did not do itself any favors when the director of its local public relations department stated in a televised interview: “Before acquiring the land, we already advised the local fishermen to change their jobs.  Despite our early recommendations, local fishermen kept on fishing in this area.  Many times in life, people have to make a choice: either to catch and sell fish, or to develop the steel industry.  We cannot have both.” Continue Reading →

September 29, 2016
by William Schulte
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China Releases National Human Rights Action Plan for 2016-2020

National_Emblem_of_the_People's_Republic_of_China.svgToday the Information Office of China’s State Council released China’s National Human Rights Action Plan for 2016-2020.  It is the third such plan that China has released since 2009, and it is intended to dovetail with the country’s 13th Five Year Plan for economic and social development.  The Human Rights Action Plan covers a number of different issues, including: economic, social and cultural rights; civil and political rights; rights of ethnic minorities, women, and other minorities; education about human rights; and fulfillment if international human rights obligations.  Notably, environmental rights feature prominently in the Action Plan, as well as several rights with regard to judicial and legislative processes that have implications for the fulfillment of environmental rights. Continue Reading →

September 23, 2016
by William Schulte
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Strengthening Myanmar’s Environmental Impact Assessment System

DSC_1050Over the past couple of years, Vermont Law School‘s (VLS) Myanmar Environmental Governance Program has had a strong focus on supporting the implementation of a new Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) system. On paper, the system is very good, but it involves new concepts and processes for all stakeholders – government, project proponents, consultants and civil society. Indeed, Myanmar just recently adopted new EIA procedures in December 2015.  Because it is so new, there is extremely limited capacity to properly implement this system, and enforcement is a long way down the track.

To support the government implement the EIA system, VLS has been undertaking various capacity building projects with the Environmental Conservation Department, which is a part of the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environmental Conservation. We have conducted training workshops with ECD staff and the inter-ministerial EIA Report Review Body, which is coordinated by ECD. Most recently, we have been undertaking EIA review clinics with ECD staff. These clinics involve practical one-on-one (or small group) training where we assist staff review EIAs that they have been assigned. We help them identify any weaknesses with the reports and prepare feedback to the EIA consultant and briefing material to their senior officers. Since late last year, VLS has conducted 8 clinics and help review about 50 EIA documents. The final clinic for the year will be held in the first week of October. Continue Reading →

September 15, 2016
by William Schulte
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Case Notes: All-China Environment Federation v. Zhenhua Glass Company, Ltd.

ACEF logoOn July 20, 2016 the Dezhou Intermediate Peoples’ Court (Shandong Province) ruled in favor of the All China Environment Federation in their lawsuit against the Zhenhua Glass Company, Ltd. for its failure to control atmospheric emissions of pollutants including sulfur dioxide, nitrogen oxide, and fine particulate matter.  The court ordered Zhenhua to pay approximately $3.3 million USD into a fund for air quality restoration, and make a public apology on a local television station.

Environmental public interest litigation (EPIL) is still less than two years old in China, and this case is an encouraging sign that courts in China are taking these types of matters seriously.  However, there are still many issues that need to be worked out in order to make EPIL an effective tool to help China address its environmental challenges. For a deeper analysis of this case with commentary from our partner Global Environmental Institute and from our own team, please follow this link.