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Volume [field_article_intvolume_value], Issue [field_article_intissue_value] — May 1997


The Environmental Regulatory Regime of the People's Republic of China: A Primer Addressing Practical Concerns of Foreign Investors

by Zhang Hongjun and Richard J. Ferris Jr.

Editors' Summary: At the heart of China's economic development boom lies the investment of an increasing number of foreign companies. China's transition to a more market-based economy, however, has brought about swift regulatory changes that serve to confound the investment community, particularly in the environmental arena. This Article seeks to alleviate this confusion by describing China's environmental regulatory regime and what it requires of foreign investment projects. An effort has been made to cover topics of particular concern to investors, such as access to regulatory information, enforcement, environmental crimes, citizen-suit and comment provisions, judicial review of administrative decisions, liability for historical contamination of land, availability of waste-disposal facilities, and basic environmental requirements for foreign investment projects.

Part I of this Article describes the scope of China's environmental legislation and the structure of the Chinese legal system. Part II provides an overview of the environmental regulatory system. Part III sets out China's environmental "legislative plan" for the period 1993-98. Part IV provides a description of particular areas of Chinese environmental law and regulation that may concern foreign investors operating or contemplating operations in China.

Superfund Reauthorization: A More Modest Proposal

by Charles de Saillan

Editors' Summary: For over three years, Congress has been trying to reauthorize and revise CERCLA. Reauthorization bills introduced in the 103d, 104th, and 105th Congresses have proposed extensive changes intended to "fix" a program that many people consider to be "broken." In this Article, an Assistant Attorney General for Natural Resources in the New Mexico Office of the Attorney General suggests that the Superfund program is not as flawed as its critics charge. He argues that the statute only needs some fine-tuning.

The Article begins with an overview of CERCLA that focuses on the features of the program that critics say need fixing. The author reviews the elements of the statute's liability scheme, its provisions for response actions and cleanup standards, the role afforded states and communities, and the statute's provision for restoration or replacement of injured natural resources. He then examines the perception that the program is broken, and analyzes the bills that have been introduced to correct the program's perceived problems. Finally, he proposes statutory changes of his own that would address existing problems without making major revisions to the law.


EPA's Audit Policy and State Audit-Privilege Laws: Moving Beyond Command and Control?

by E. Lynn Grayson & Christina M. Riewer

The pursuit of environmental protection traditionally meant the imposition of command-and-control regulation and enforcement by federal and state environmental authorities. For at least 25 years, the protection of this country's air, water, and land resources relied on the development of complex, increasingly sophisticated environmental laws and regulations. Environmental officials ensured the success of these protective measures by establishing aggressive enforcement programs aimed at identifying and prosecuting violators. Over time, enforcement efforts increasingly consumed precious economic and human resources of overburdened, inadequately funded environmental agencies. While most agree that early command-and-control programs achieved positive results, they also concede that changing political, industrial, and regulatory climates are emerging that lessen the need for stringent command-and-control measures to achieve environmental compliance.1

Industry's own efforts to improve its environmental compliance record helped cause these changes. In particular, environmental auditing, which has expanded rapidly over the past decade, has advanced industry's ability to monitor operations to both detect and prevent environmental problems.2 The advent of formalized auditing procedures, including the creation of written audit reports that detail an operation's environmental compliance status and target key areas for improvement, further solidified the usefulness of industry-led self-audits.