The EPA took the initiative to take stock of relevant environmental regulations such as those for permit renewal, regular test reporting, or onsite inspections that cannot be implemented due to the COVID-19 epidemic and may thus cause severe impacts to enterprises, and devised measures to provide relief and convenience to help enterprises survive the impact of the epidemic.
As the Central Epidemic Command Center raised the national epidemic alert to Level 3 on 19 May 2021, all local governments simultaneously tightened and expanded epidemic prevention restrictions, causing a great impact on people’s daily lives, and making some businesses unable to comply with relevant regulations. Therefore, the EPA is formulating measures to provide relief and convenience for the public, and will soon send notifications to local environmental bureaus and relevant industrial associations to ask them to follow them.
The first measure is an extension of the validity periods of permits issued to public or private establishments. If permits expire between 14 May 2021 and 31 December 2021, the expiration dates are uniformly postponed to 31 December 2021.
The second measure is to allow the extension of correction periods for applications for all categories of environmental permits during the epidemic. The relevant competent authorities can extend the correction periods according to the needs of individual cases up to a maximum of 90 days.
The third measure is to allow new permit or permit change applications to be reviewed mainly through document examination. If applications require review by scholars or experts in person, they may be conducted through video conferencing or recording. In principle, onsite procedures such as inspections or verifications will not be conducted. Because of the epidemic, public or private establishments or enterprises may also be exempt from conducting test runs or functional tests. Reviewing authorities may refer to the application document and approve an application with emissions that are 80% (or specified otherwise) of the estimated pollution emissions. If there is falsified information in the applications submitted by the establishments or enterprises, the reviewing authorities reserve the right to revoke the permits. After the epidemic slows down, relevant pollution emissions shall be verified onsite (such as through onsite auditing or inspection). If emissions are found to be significantly different from the approved levels, the establishments or enterprises will be asked to submit permit modification applications.
The fourth measure is related to regular tests. If any control regulations (such as those for air pollution, water pollution or waste) require tests be conducted in the second quarter (April-June) and third quarter (July-September) of 2021, the test results obtained in one of these quarters can be used to represent the results of the other, thus skipping one quarter’s tests. If regulations require tests to be conducted once every half year, the test results obtained in the first half of 2021 can be reported as late as 30 September 2021.
The fifth measure is to adjust the timing for the report and payment of pollution control fees. The deadline is postponed one quarter; that is, the report and payment that should normally be done in the second quarter can now take place between 1 July 2021 and 31 October 2021.
Excerpt from Major Environmental Policies, June 2021
- Ministry of Environment