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Upgraded Ministry of Environment starts operations

2023-08-23
Focus Taiwan
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CNA photo Aug. 22, 2023
CNA photo Aug. 22, 2023

Taipei, Aug. 22 (CNA) The new Ministry of Environment officially started operations Tuesday after a plaque-unveiling ceremony and inauguration of its first minister, Shieu Fuh-sheng (薛富盛).

The ministry was upgraded from the Environmental Protection Administration (EPA) established in 1987 after a law to re-designate the EPA a ministry cleared the Legislature on May 9 and was promulgated by President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) on May 24.

Addressing the plaque-unveiling ceremony, Tsai said the ministry is determined to respond to global trends and expressed confidence it will work with various sectors of society to help accelerate the nation's transition to net-zero emissions.

Tsai also praised Shieu for his promotion of research into the circular economy as president of National Chung Hsing University in Taichung from August 2015 to July 2023.

During his time at the university, Shieu led the establishment of the country's first academy dedicated to the circular economy at the university's Nantou campus, Tsai added.

Shieu noted that environmental sustainability is not just a mission but also a grave challenge facing the world, adding that he will strive to tackle the challenge and combat climate change in his new position.

Shieu also outlined his vision for upgrading the nation's management strategies for pollution, from control to prevention and improving environmental education, while working closely with domestic academic and research institutions and the business sector to confront environment challenges and jointly protect the homeland.

Four specialized agencies -- Climate Change Agency, Resource Recycling Agency, Chemical Substance Management Agency, and Environmental Management Agency -- and a National Environmental Research Institute have been established under the Ministry of Environment.

The new minister also said he will visit Keelung Mayor Hsieh Kuo-liang (謝國樑) to discuss Taiwan Power Co. (Taipower) plan to build a liquefied natural gas (LNG) receiving station on Keelung's northern coast, which is opposed by environmental groups and local political figures including Hsieh, who believe the project poses a threat to biodiversity, particularly coastal wildlife and coral reefs.

Taipower proposes reclaiming 14.5 hectares of land near Xiehe Power Plant on which it will build the receiving station.

Xiehe Power Plant is currently the only fully oil-fired power plant in Taiwan, but Taipower wants to phase out the oil-fired units before 2024 and build the LNG terminal to accommodate the conversion of the 2,000-megawatt oil-fired power plant into a gas-fired plant.

Taipower said that the natural gas power plant will provide a reliable power supply for the city and generate low carbon emissions.

In March, Keelung City government approved a referendum petition by environmentalists and residents against the planned LNG receiving terminal but approval was revoked by the central government on the grounds that holding referendums does not fall under the purview of local governments.

However, Hsieh said in April that his government will file an administrative appeal against the central government's decision, saying that a referendum to halt construction of the terminal falls within the autonomous powers of the city government.

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