On June 14 China’s State Council adopted new air pollution control regulations. One of the surprising features of the 10-part regulations is a requirement that large polluters disclose to the public information about their emissions. The regulations mandate that large sources reduce their emissions per unit of production by 30% by the year 2017. The regulations require the use of significantly cleaner fuels in motor vehicles, a requirement already in place in Beijing and Shanghai. The regulations strengthen penalies for failure to comply with environmental regulations. They also mandate that municipal governments assess the risks of protests derailing their development plans. Keith Bradsher, N.Y. TImes, June 16, 2013, at A11.
The government of Ghana has conducted a harsh crackdown during the last two weeks on heavily polluting wildcat gold mines operated primarily by prospectors from China. At least 169 Chinese have been arrested for operating illegal gold mines and many others are in hiding. Many of the miners were from Guangxi, China and the Chinese government reportedly has agreed to post bail, pay fines and facilitate their return to China. Adam Nossiter & Yiting Sun, Chasing a Golden Dream, Chinese Miners Are on the Run in Ghana, N.Y. Times, June 11, 2013, at A4.
As Myanmar opens up to the outside world, environmental activists there are becoming more influential. Ko Lay Lwin, a former airline accountant, has become a leading environmental opponent of a proposed multi-billion dollar deepwater port and coal-fired power plant project at Dawei. The project, to be built by Italian-Thai Development PCL, has been stalled in part due to environmental opposition. As Thai environmentalists have gained increasing clout, more Thai companies are exploring development projects in Myanmar. Thai environmentalists increasingly are assisting their counterparts in Myanmar, who felt empowered after the Myanmar government stopped China’s giant Myitsone dam project on the Irrawaddy River in late 2011. Myanmar reportedly is considering joining the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative. James Hookway, Asia’s Green Activists Spread Their Roots, Wall St. J., June 12, 2013, at A1.
On June 10 Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi harshly criticized the government of Ethiopia for its plans to build Africa’s largest hydroelectric dam on the river Nile. Morsi, who fears that the dam will greatly reduce the flow of the Nile into Egypt, declared that “all options are open” in opposing the dam. While he did not specifically threaten war, he stated that if “a single drop of the Nile is lost, our blood is the alternative.” On June 11 sources indicated that negotiations were underway between Egypt and Ethiopia over the $4 billion project.
Construction of the first new nuclear powerplants in the U.S. in 30 years is now nearly one-third complete, but at least 14 months behind schedule. The Vogtle 3 and 4 nuclear reactors being built in Waynesboro, Georgia by the Southern Company are now expected to cost approximately $14 billion, far more than the $8.87 billion spent on Vogtle 1 & 2, which were completed in 1987 and 1989. Cost overruns and delays have been caused in part by problems with suppliers. With the price of natural gas low it remains to be seen whether the project will prove to be economical in the long run. Vogtle 3 is now scheduled to open in 2017, but some are anticipating further delays in the schedule. Matthew L. Wald, Atomic Power’s Green Light or Red Flag, June 12, 2013, at B1.