Environmental Gains Lose Priority in China Amid Downturn – NYTimes.com

“DUANJIALING, China — Less than a year ago, officials were pressing mines and factories along this limestone belt of northern China to shut down or move away to clear the air of dust and smog for the Beijing Olympics.

Now, amid the global economic downturn, priorities have shifted.

Cumbersome environmental reviews have been accelerated, state bank loans are flowing freely again and workers are welding the grinding mills of Sanhe Yongsheng Cement, one of the new cement plants under construction not far from China’s capital.”

The article goes on to mention rapid approval of projects:

“In the rush to invest $585 billion in stimulus spending and revive flagging industrial production, China has at least temporarily backpedaled on some environmental restraints imposed, though with limited impact, during the country’s long boom.

The Ministry of Environmental Protection, citing the urgency of fighting the downturn, adopted a new “green passage” policy that speeds approval of industrial projects. In one three-day stretch late last year, it gave the green light to 93 new investment plans valued at $38 billion.”

via Environmental Gains Lose Priority in China Amid Downturn – NYTimes.com.