China will tighten supervision of 2.36 million businesses that discharge pollutants to ensure laws are followed amid efforts to improve environmental protection, according to a regulation newly released by the State Council.
Environmental authorities should decide the frequency of business inspections based on factors including the quantity of pollutants emitted and the environmental impact, Liu Zhiquan, a senior official with the Ministry of Ecology and Environment, said when introducing the regulation on Friday.
"More inspections should be made on pollutant discharging units with worse social credit and higher public attention," said Wang Canfa, an environmental law expert and professor at the China University of Political Science and Law.
Authorities can monitor the emissions of companies at the scene or through a national-level information platform, according to the regulation, which is scheduled to come into effect on March 1.
Businesses are expected to apply for discharge permits and disclose emission information on the platform, which is an authoritative channel for the public to learn related information.
"Either residents or professional environmental protection institutions have access to information about nationwide pollutant discharging units, including whether their applications have been accepted. Information is the basis of supervision," said Bie Tao, a senior official with the ministry.
One of the major difficulties of environmental law enforcement was that pollutant discharging businesses held back the original emission figures, obstructing the collection of evidence, said Wang, the professor.
"The new regulation states that companies must provide their discharge permits, environmental management records and monitoring data, greatly enhancing environmental enforcement," he added.
Moreover, when the data provided by businesses differs from what environment authorities monitored, the latter should be the evidence for law enforcement, the regulation said.
Companies are asked to install automatic monitoring equipment and keep records for no less than five years. Those who violate the provision will face a maximum fine of 200,000 yuan ($30,900) and even criminal responsibility.The maximum fine for discharging pollutants without permits can reach 1 million yuan, along with a suspension of operations, according to the regulation.