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China To Bar Pollution Violators From Stock Market

Environmental enforcement is becoming a top priority after three decades of rapid growth that have left China's air and water badly polluted, according to a state newspaper.

BEIJING (AP) — China will bar companies that violate pollution rules from raising money through the stock market, a state newspaper said Wednesday, in a new effort to end widespread defiance of environmental standards.
 
The government has been stepping up environmental enforcement following three decades of rapid growth that have left China's air and water badly polluted. It said in July it would create a blacklist of polluting companies that would be denied bank loans.
 
''Enterprises found guilty of environmental violations or failing to meet pollutant discharge requirements will not be allowed to list their shares,'' said Zhou Shengxian, minister of the State Environmental Protection Agency, quoted by the China Daily.
 
The ruling Communist Party has declared environmental protection a priority, spurred in part by pollution incidents in rivers and lakes that disrupted water supplies to millions of people.
 
The government also worries about widespread damage to forests and farmland from acid rain caused by sulfur dioxide emissions from coal-fired power plants and factories.
 
Regulators complain that Chinese companies ignore standards because penalties are modest and some are protected by officials who resist rules that might hurt local economies.
 
The newest measure would let the central government bypass local officials by using its control over access to China's stock markets, where many companies are eager to sell shares.
 
Zhou said publicly traded companies should be prepared to make public their environmental records, according to the China Daily.
 
Zhou also promised to step up efforts to reduce industrial waste, the newspaper said.
 
''We will speed up industrial restructuring to ensure that the target of phasing out outdated techniques, equipment and products is met by the end of 2010,'' he was quoted as saying.
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