Legislator praised for anti-pollution efforts
A legislator from Shandong province has been hailed for his persistence over the past five years to push for new regulations to tackle air pollution and improve the nation’s management of the environment.
A deputy to the National People’s Congress for the past seven years, Song Xinfang, director of the Honeybee Research Institute of Dongying, Shandong province, submitted an anti-smog proposal this year. Last year, smog affected more than 100 cities, prompting the central government to enact a number of measures to curb pollution.
In March 2013, he proposed that the number of vehicles allowed on roads and the consumption of coal be reduced in major cities such as Beijing and Shanghai, and in Guangdong province. After his 2013 proposal, the Ministry of Environmental Protection required that levels of PM 2.5 drop by 25 percent in the Beijing-Tianjin-Hebei hub, 20 percent in the Yangtze River Delta region and 15 percent in the Pearl River Delta region based on the amount of emissions in 2012.
“The Environmental Protection Ministry called me back about three months after I submitted my proposal, and I think the new regulation encompassed my ideas,” Song said. Song’s proposal this year calls for a new anti-pollution law that includes PM 2.5 and other new pollutants as well as better government management of the environment.
“Currently, the punishment for violators is too light. What’s worse, contaminating factories are usually the biggest contributors to local government revenues, which makes it harder to shut them down,” he said.
Song began collecting information for his first proposal in 2009 after his family’s first experience with smog.
That year, Song and his family drove through heavy smog returning to Dongying after traveling to a nearby tourist spot.
“Each of my family members didn’t know what smog was until that day. The air seemed to be sticky, and we could hardly breathe,” he said.
Song soon began requesting information about smog and suggestions about how to deal with it from the public. Song said he received at least 100 suggestions a day in the weeks leading up to the 2009 two sessions. Over the past five years, Song said he has fielded an increasing number of complaints about the smog, water contamination and food safety.
Song said his obligation is to carefully research the issues that the public cares about and bring their opinions to light for the nation’s top leadership. “My goal is very simple: To make a difference with what I have seen and heard,” he said.