By Zhao Jun (赵俊), Dongfang Daily (东方早报), February 26, 2013
The author, an associate professor at the Shanghai University of Political Science and Law, argues that without the effective implementation of the public interest lawsuit system, it will be difficult for the system to serve its intended purpose of environmental protection. The author notes that in the variety of responses in the recent controversy involving groundwater pollution, judicial methods have not been adopted. The environmental protection public interest lawsuit has not been utilized in this case because of the following defects:
1. Due to the lack of follow-up legislation, the identity of “legally-determined” eligible government units and social organizations remains unclear.
2. Although individuals are included in the scope of the public interest lawsuit field, the language about “legally-determined” units mentioned above excludes their participation.
3. There exists only a civil procedure for environmental public interest lawsuits, not an administrative procedure. Thus, while businesses may be sued for environmental harm, there is no process for addressing environmental damage inflicted by the government.