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Chinese environment watchdog to get more power

Chinese environment watchdog to get more power

China's government is boosting the authority of its long-toothless environmental watchdog agency in an attempt to rein in the rampant pollution wrought by rapid economic development.
The State Environmental Protection Agency, known as SEPA, is on track to be promoted to a full-fledged Cabinet ministry, giving it a bigger budget and more people, according to Hongjun Zhang, a former SEPA official and environmental law expert.
Formal approval
The changes, expected to be formally approved by the national legislature in March, are meant to help one of China's weakest agencies grapple with one of the country's biggest problems.
Environmental degradation has fouled the air in cities and poisoned farmland and water sources, sparking protests at home and spoiling China's relations abroad.
Beijing's filthy air has drawn worldwide attention as the city gears up to host the Summer Olympics in August. China's emissions of greenhouse gases - soon to be the world's biggest if not already so - have sparked criticism from campaigners fighting global warming. Toxic dust from factories regularly passes from China to South Korea and across the Pacific to the United States.