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Officials Expect Energy 'Basic Law' in Two Years

Chinese officials plan to see the country's first energy "basic law" passed by the legislature in two years, laying the groundwork for future national energy policies, said sources with the group drawing up the legislation on Tuesday.

In its first public discussion of the proposed law, the office of the energy leading group under the State Council disclosed how the legislation would affect government policy and national energy use in the years ahead.

The government has set the goal of reducing national energy consumption by 20 percent in the five-year period from 2006 to 2010.

The goal, as well as the strategy of forming an energy-efficient and environmentally friendly society, would be an important part of the Energy Law, said a senior official with the office.

The law would stipulate articles to encourage domestic energy exploration and international energy cooperation, optimize energy reserves and emergency response systems, develop renewable and new energies and enhance energy efficiency, he said.

The improvement of China's economic structure depended on improving its energy structure, which required integrated energy policies, he said.

The Energy Law would ensure those policies were implemented more effectively, he said.

The law also aims to give outline the government's role in the energy market, regulations for a competitive market, improvements to China's production safety and encouraging technological innovation, he said.

The law would incorporate experiences of other countries, including the 2005 Energy Policy Act of 2005 of the United States, he said.

China now has four specific energy laws, covering the coal industry, electric power, energy conservation and renewable energy as well as local rules and regulations on energy.

However, the country has yet to officially legislate on petroleum and natural gas.

Without a basic law and a complete energy law system, China had to rely on policies to solve its energy problems, which were "inconsistent and unstable", said the official.

China is the second largest energy producer and consumer in the world after the United States.

The government launched the draft work of the Energy Law in January with the establishment of a drafting group drawn from 15 state ministries or institutions.

From this May to December, a survey on proposals and suggestions to the Energy Law is being conducted through the Internet and newspapers across the country by the office of the energy leading group and the National Development and Reform Commission. 
This is the first time the government had solicited public opinions on such a large scale before drafting an important law, said Wang Mingyuan, associate professor of the Center for Environmental, Natural Resources and Energy Law of Tsinghua University.

It showed the importance the government attached to the law and the great public significance of the energy basic law, said Wang.

(Xinhua News Agency June 14, 2006)

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