By Wang Huixian 王会贤, Philanthropy Times 公益时报, April 16, 2013
As the number of environmental public interest lawsuits and incidents has increased, lawyers have decided to develop a formalized group for the professionals engaged in this type of work. 14 lawyers have already joined. Public interest lawyer Zeng Xiangbin, who founded the group, pointed to the recent Zhongxiang case, in which pollution victims were arrested with a specious accusation of blackmail, as a turning point, stating that it would be difficult to encourage pollution victims to speak up if they were to continuously suffer from this sort of “pressure.” He also argued that by forming a national network, lawyers would be better equipped to circumvent local pressures. The Zhongxiang case, as the first case addressed by this group, was the subject of a forum in Beijing, in which environmental NGOs and lawyers came together to discuss possible approaches. Because collecting formal evidence is one of the most challenging factors in environmental law suits, Zeng emphasized the need for collaboration from environmental NGOs and scientific research centers. Zeng hopes that this case will be the first of many, and that this public interest lawyers group will be able to serve the function of encouraging pollution management, as well as the transfer of local government and environmental protection bureau responsibilities to private organizations.