China's New Regional Air Quality Regulation - translated

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Notice of the General Office of the State Council about Forwarding Guiding Opinions on Pushing Forward the Joint Prevention and Control of Atmospheric Pollution to Improve the Regional Air Quality Developed by the Ministry of Environment Protection and Relevant Departments

No. 33 [2010] of the General Office of the State Council

The people’s governments of all provinces, autonomous regions and municipalities directly under the Central Government, all ministries and commissions of the State Council, and all institutions directly under the State Council:

The Guiding Opinions on Pushing Forward the Joint Prevention and Control of Air Pollution to Improve the Regional Air Quality raised by the Ministry of Environment Protection, the National Development and Reform Commission, the Ministry of Science and Technology, the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology, the Ministry of Finance, the Ministry of Housing and Urban-Rural Construction, the Ministry of Transport, the Ministry of Commerce and the Bureau of Energy has been approved by the State Council and hereby forwarded to you for your earnest compliance and implementation.

General Office of the State Council

May 11, 2010

Guiding Opinions on Pushing Forward the Joint Prevention and Control of Air Pollution to Improve Regional Air Quality

The Ministry of Environment Protection, the National Development and Reform Commission, the Ministry of Science and Technology, the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology, the Ministry of Finance, the Ministry of Housing and Urban-Rural Construction, the Ministry of Transport, the Ministry of Commerce and the Bureau of Energy

In recent years, acid rain, haze, photochemical smog pollution and other atmospheric pollution problems in some regions of China has become increasingly distinct, severely threatening people’s health and impacting environmental safety. Successful experience at home and abroad proves that we must adopt regional joint prevention and control measures as early as possible to tackle regional atmospheric pollution problems. Now we put forward the following opinions on pushing forward the joint prevention and control of atmospheric pollution and improving the regional air quality, with a view to further reinforce the work of air pollution prevention and control.

1. Guiding Concept, Basic Principles and Work Goals
(1) Guiding Concept. Taking the scientific concept of development as the guide, the improvement of air quality as the goal, the enhancement of joint efforts in regional environmental protection as the main theme and the overall reduction in emission of air pollutants as the means, establish and improve the working mechanisms of unified planning, unified monitoring, unified supervision, unified evaluation and unified coordination for the joint prevention and control of regional atmospheric pollution to soundly and effectively prevent and control atmospheric pollution.

(2) Basic principles. Stick to the combination of environmental protection with economic development to promote the coordinated development of the regional environment and economy; adhere to the combination of jurisdiction management with regional joint action to improve the overall level of prevention and control of regional atmospheric pollution; persist in the combination of pilot implementation with comprehensive promotion (in other regions) to first make breakthroughs in key regions.

(3) Work goals. By 2015, establish a joint prevention and control system for atmospheric pollution, formulate a system of regulations, standards and policies for regional atmospheric environmental management, significantly reduce the total amount of emissions from the main atmospheric pollutants, ensure that all key enterprises meet the emissions standards, and ensure that all cities in key regions maintain air quality at or better than the Grade II National Ambient Air Quality Standard, greatly reduce the acid rain, haze and photochemical smog pollution and improve regional air quality. Guarantee good air quality for the World Expo 2010 Shanghai China and the Guangzhou Asian Games.

2. Key Regions and Prevention and Control Focus
(4) Key regions. The key regions for beginning the implementation of regional air pollution joint prevention and control are the Beijing-Tianjin-Hebei Region, the Yangtze River Delta Region and the Pearl River Delta Region; in Central Liaoning, the Shandong peninsula, Wuhan and its surrounding area, the Changsha, Zhuzhou and Xiangtan region, the Chengdu and Chongqing region, and the western coast of the Taiwan Strait governments should actively promote regional air pollution joint prevention and control; for other regions, the local people’s governments should organize and develop regional air pollution joint prevention and control in light of actual conditions.

(5) Prevention and Control Focus. The key pollutants in joint prevention and control of air pollution include sulfur dioxide (SO2), nitrogen oxides (NOx), particulates (PM) and volatile organic compounds (VOC), etc.; the key industries include thermal (ed: i.e. fossil fuel) power generation, iron & steel, non-ferrous metals, petrochemicals, cement and chemicals, those key enterprises that heavily affect regional air quality; and the key problems to be addressed are the acid rain, haze, photochemical smog, etc.

3. Optimize Regional Industrial Structure and Composition
(6) Raise the environmental access threshold. Develop and implement special emissions limits for air pollution from key industries in key regions; strictly control the new construction and expansion of thermal power plants in key regions, except when the “larger plants are built to replace smaller ones” (“上大压小”to build a large power plant, small plants with proportional capacity have to be shut down) and the building of combined heat and power (CHP) co-generation plants, and forbid building thermal power plants other than combined heat and power (CHP) co-generation plants in the urban area of any prefecture-level city. In key regions, establish a regional consultation mechanism of environment impact assessment (EIA) for construction projects of key industries. The specific implementation methods should be developed separately by the Ministry of Environmental Protection. Strengthen environmental impact assessments for regional industrial development planning, and tightly control the expansion projects industries with overcapacity, such as iron & steel, cement, plate glass, traditional coal chemical, polysilicon, electrolytic aluminum and shipbuilding.

(7) Optimize regional industrial composition. Establish environmental supervision for moving industriaes (from one location to another), strengthen environmental supervision in the receiving region when such a transfer occurs, and prevent moving the pollution (from one region to another). In downtown areas and suburbs, prohibit the establishment and expansion of heavy-polluting enterprises such as iron & steel, non-ferrous metals, petrochemicala, cement and chemicals. Such enterprises that have been built in urban areas shall be relocated or reconstructed in line with the industrial restructuring. Complete the relocation project of Shougang Group on schedule, and organize and implement relocation projects for iron and steel plants in Shijiazhuang, Hangzhou, Guangzhou and other cities.

(8) Promote technical progress and structural adjustment. Improve clean production standards and evaluation indicators for key industries, and strengthen clean production audit and evaluation criteria for key industries; make greater efforts to develop clean production technologies and encourage enterprises to use advanced clean production technologies; speed up industrial structural adjustment, and ensure that outdated production capacity in the power, coal, iron & metal, cement, nonferrous metal, coke, paper making, tanning, printing & dyeing and other industries is decommissioned on schedule.

4. Strengthen Prevention and Control of Key Pollutants
(9) Strengthen the total emission control system for sulfur dioxide. Raise thermal power plants’ rate of desulphurization and perfect the installation and deployment of desulphurization facilities at thermal power plants; intensify reductions in sulfur dioxide emissions in the the iron & steel, petrochemical, nonferrous metal and other industries, and push forward desulphurization of industrial boilers. In addition, improve the pollution levy system for sulfur dioxide emissions, and establish regional sulfur dioxide total emissions reduction targets.

(10) Strengthen nitrogen oxide (NOx) emissions reduction. Establish a total emission control system for NOx. Newly-built, expanded or renovated thermal power plants should be equipped with NOx removal equipment that meets total emissions and EIA standards, all the thermal power plants in the key regions should install NOx removal equipment during the 12th Five-year Plan period, and the thermal power plants in other regions should reserve space (at their facilities) for NOx removal. Promote industrial boilers with low nitrogen emissions, and put an emphasis on prevention and control of NOx pollution in the iron & steel, petrochemical, chemical and other industries.

(11) Strengthen prevention and control of particulates. The enterprises with industrial boilers, cement plants and thermal power plants should adopt bag filter and other efficient dust removal technologies. Enhance environmental management at construction sites, prohibit the use of bagged cement and on-site mixing of concrete and mortar, and adopt construction site dust prevention measures, including enclosures and covers. Strengthen road cleaning and improve urban road cleanliness. Implement projects “without soil exposed” and reduce bare land in urban areas.

(12) Prevent and control volatile organic compounds (VOCs). VOC pollution caused by paint, petrochemical production, shoemaking, electronic manufacture, dry cleaning and other production operations that discharge VOCs should be treated according to the relevant technical specifications. Push forward control over fumes at gasoline stations. The recovery and reconstruction work must be completed for the existing oil depots, gas stations and tank trucks in the key regions as scheduled and their recovery systems should run in compliance with related standards; new oil depots, gas stations and tank trucks must be installed with a VOC fume recovery system before being put into use. Strictly control the emissions of cooking fumes from the catering industry in cities.

5. Strengthen the Use of Clean Energy
(13) Strictly control emissions from coal combustion. Strictly control the construction of coal-fired projects in the key regions and pilot regional coal consumption caps. Increase the construction of low-sulfur and low-ash coal distribution centers, improve the percentate of coal that is washed, and prohibit industrial enterprises without desulphurization technology in key regions from directly burning any coal containing over 0.5% sulfur. Strengthen the development of areas where the use of highly polluting fuels is forbidden, gradually expand their scope, and prohibit direct burning of raw coal. Build demonstration projects of multi-pollutant control technologies such as combined control of SO2, NOx, particulates and mercury for thermal power units.

(14) Vigorously promote the use of clean energy. Improve the urban energy consumption structure, make more efforts to promote the use of natural gas, liquefied petroleum gas, coal gas, solar energy and other clean energies, gradually increasing the proportion of clean energy used in cities. Continue the clean energy campaign and actively demonstrate the use of clean energies. Promote energy conservation in industry, transportation and buildings, and improve the energy efficiency. Accelerate the development of rural clean energy, encourage comprehensive utilization of crop residue, promote biomass briquettes, and vigorously develop rural methane projects. Prohibit open air burning of straw and other crop waste and ensure good air quality around cities, traffic trunk lines and airports. Encourage the use of energy-saving stoves and gradually eliminate traditional high-polluting stoves.

(15) Actively develop urban district heating systems. Increase construction of centralized urban heating projects, strengthen heating boiler networks in cities and towns, and increase the urban district heating coverage area. Intensify SO2, NOx and particulate control in district heating boilers. Develop cleaner coal technologies, and step up efforts to demonstrate and promote highly-efficient, cleaner-coal boilers for district heating. In downtown areas and suburbs, prohibit building small, inefficient, highly polluting coal-fired boilers, and progress with dismantling existing small coal-fired boilers over time.

6. Strengthen Prevention and Control of Motor Vehicles Pollution
(16) Reduce the emissions of motor vehicles. Strictly implement national motor vehicle emission standards, improve the environmental protection type approval system for newly produced motor vehicles, and prohibit production, sale and registration of vehicles that fail to comply with the national motor vehicle emission standards. Continue to expand the government subsidy program for “auto replacement” of old vehicles, speed up the elimination of “high-emission vehicles” and low-speed trucks, and vigorously develop clean energy automobiles.

(17) Improve the motor vehicle environmental management system. Strengthen regular motor vehicle environmental inspection, actualize motor vehicle environmental label management, specifically repair vehicles that fail to meet emissions standards. Reinforce supervision and management of environmental protection inspection institutions according to law and promote their sound development. Strengthen the capacity for motor vehicle environmental protection supervision, establish a motor vehicle environmental protection management information system, and research adopting tax policies that promote motor vehicle pollution prevention and control.

(18) Accelerate the use of clean vehicle fuels. Promote low-sulfur vehicle fuels, accelerate improvements in oil refineries, and increase the market supply of quality vehicle fuels. Formulate and implement Phase 4 and Phase 5 national vehicle fuel standards and the standards for limiting toxic substances in vehicle fuels as soon as possible. Strengthen the approval and management of vehicle fuel detergents.

(19) Greatly develop public transportation. Improve urban traffic infrastructure, prioritize public transit in transportation strategy, speed up the construction of dedicated bus and electric vehicle lanes (roads), and set up signal systems that give priority to public buses. Improve the conditions for residents to travel on foot or by bike, and encourage them to select eco-friendly mobility.

7. Better the Regional Air Quality Supervision System
(20) Strengthen air quality monitoring in the key regions. Improve air quality monitoring capability, optimize air quality monitoring sites in the key regions, develop monitoring for acid rain, particulates and ozone and road-side air quality monitoring, develop forecasts for severe air pollution incidents, including early warning and emergency action plans, improve the environmental information provision system, and share monitoring information in the key regions. By the end of 2011, complete the preliminary steps in developing air quality monitoring networks in the key regions.

(21) Improve the air quality evaluation indicator system. Speed up the revision of air quality evaluation indicators, improve the air quality evaluation methods for ozone and fine particulates, and add the corresponding evaluation indicators.

(22) Strengthen management for urban air quality classification. Cities that fail to meet the Grade II national ambient air quality standard must formulate plans to meet the air quality standard, and ensure air quality improvements on schedule. The designated environmental protection key cities (113 cities) should report their plans for meeting the air quality standard to the Ministry of Environment Protection for approval and then implement the plans. Cities that meet Grade II standard should formulate plans for continuous air quality improvement and prevent deterioration of air quality.

(23) Strengthen regional environmental law enforcement. The Ministry of Environment Protection in coordination with local governments and departments will determine and publish the lists of key enterprises, conduct regional air quality joint law enforcement inspections, and rectify non-compliant enterprises. Environmental Protection Bureaus in each region should enhance supervisory monitoring of key enterprises, and promote installation of online monitoring devices at pollution sources. By the end of 2012, all the key enterprises should be equipped with online monitoring devices and should be connected to the Environmental Protection Bureaus.

8. Strengthen Guarantee Capability of Regional Air Quality
(24) Increase capital expenditure. The people’s governments at all levels shall, in light of the particular conditions of air pollution prevention and control, increase capital investment, strengthen the management of the special environmental protection fund, and propel the construction of key pollution control projects and regional air quality monitoring and supervision capabilities. For cities failing to meet air quality standards, the government there should increase capital investment on a year-on-year basis, and accelerate the construction of the urban air quality protection infrastructure and pollution abatement programs.

(25) Strengthen support for science and technology. Strengthen research into the regional air pollution formation, tackle major and difficult scientific problems, including flue gas NOx removal, toxic and harmful gas treatment, clean coal utilization, control of volatile organic compounds atmospheric mercury pollution control, and rural biomass energy development. Make more efforts to demonstrate and promote pollution prevention and control technologies for fine particulates and ozone. Accelerate the application of high-and-new technologies in environmental protection, and promote the development of the environmental protection industry.

(26) Improve the environmental economic policy. Continue to implement differential electricity prices energy intensive and highly polluting industries. Conduct strict environmental audits of listed companies in industries such as thermal power, iron & steel, cement and electrolytic aluminum. Vigorously promote of the sale of emission allowances and emission trading. Perfect the regional ecological compensation policy, study incentive programs for areas where air quality is improved significantly.

9. Strengthen Organization and Coordination
(27) Establish regional air pollution joint prevention and control coordination mechanism. Based on the national environmental protection ministerial meeting system, convene on an irregular basis meetings of relevant departments and local and provincial people’s governments on specific topics in order to coordinate to solve major issues in regional air pollution joint prevention and control, to organize meetings in key regions to prepare joint prevention and control plans, and articulate air quality improvement goals, air pollution prevention and control measures and key pollution treatment projects in key regions. The regional air quality management plans need to be completed and reported for approval before the end of 2011.

(28) Fulfill responsibilities strictly. As the responsible body for prevention and control of regional air pollution, the local people’s government should strengthen its organization and leadership, work out a joint prevention and control plan for local air pollution, assign all tasks to responsible institutions and enterprises, and consolidate supervision and assessment. All the related departments should strengthen coordination and collaboration, work out corresponding measures and applications, and urge and guide local departments to complete the work.

(29) Improve the evaluation system. The Ministry of Environmental Protection of the People’s Republic of China should evaluate and examine the implementation of regional air pollution joint prevention and control along with related departments, assess the completion of key regional air pollution prevention and control and the urban air quality improvement, and annually publish results of a comprehensive and quantitative urban air quality assessment publicly. For the cities that fail to complete planned tasks on time and whose air quality severely deteriorates, the Ministry of Environmental Protection will strictly control new construction projects that discharge air pollutants. The specific implementation method should be worked out separately by the Ministry of Environmental Protection together with the related local governments and departments.

(30) Strengthen publicity and education. Compile scientific and technical information and air pollution prevention and control training materials, develop diverse forms of air quality protection publicity and educational materials, and mobilize and guide the public to participate in regional air pollution prevention and control work. Regularly publicize information about regional air quality and progress in regional air pollution prevention and control, and bring into full play the public supervision functions of media. Each region should submit the implementation plan for fulfilling these guiding opinions to the Ministry of Environmental Protection of the People’s Republic of China for filing before the end of June 2010.