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VLS, Chinese Prosecutors to Discuss Pollution Lawsuits

May 10, 2010

SOUTH ROYALTON, VT -- Vermont Law School will conduct a series of workshops in China this month with Chinese prosecutors, the U.S. Department of Justice and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to discuss using public interest litigation to protect Chinese citizens from pollution and other environmental violations.

VLS's U.S.-China Partnership for Environmental Law will lead the workshops, which will include China's Supreme Peoples Procuratorate (SPP), the National Prosecutors College and the Guangzhou Maritime Court. The workshops will be in Beijing and Guangzhou from May 11-14.

The workshops will be an important opportunity for sharing the American experience, specifically the Justice Department's role in civil and criminal enforcement efforts, and engaging Chinese government officials on environmental enforcement issues. VLS, Justice Department and EPA officials will advise Chinese prosecutors on how civil lawsuits and criminal prosecutions are used for environmental issues in the United States.

"Ensuring the implementation and enforcement of environmental laws is not only significant to pollution control generally but also to the implementation of any regulatory scheme to achieve greenhouse gas emission reductions," said Tseming Yang, director of VLS's U.S.-China Partnership.

The Beijing workshop will focus on the role of the procuratorate in prosecuting environmental crimes and pursuing non-criminal enforcement actions. The SPP, which oversees government prosecutors in China, currently focuses on criminal prosecutions in environmental cases, in part, because it lacks a formal civil judicial enforcement role.

The Guangzhou workshop, which is sponsored with the Guangzhou Maritime Court, will focus on the role of public interest litigation in water pollution cases. In addition to hearing traditional maritime matters, the court presides over an increasing number of water pollution cases within its jurisdiction. The Justice Department delegation will also hold an informal roundtable with the Guangzhou Municipal People's Procuratorate to share its experiences on civil and criminal enforcement efforts.

Every year, an estimated 460,000 people die prematurely in China due to exposure to air and water pollution, according to a World Bank study.

The U.S.-China Partnership provides training to Chinese legal, educational, governmental, non-profit, business and community leaders in an effort to strengthen China's enforcement of environmental laws.

John Cramer, Associate Director of Media Relations
 802-831-1106 ,

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