Law School, EPA to aid China

GW’s Law School will try to help improve China’s environmental policies in a program with the Environmental Protection Agency.

The EPA-China Environmental Law Initiative, which was launched in September 2007, chose to collaborate with GW Law School faculty in November because of their extensive environmental law knowledge.

“In particular, they have good contacts and working relationships with environmental law experts in Shanghai, Wuhan and Southwestern China,” EPA officials said.

Other institutions involved in the program include the Woodrow Wilson Center China Environment Forum and the University of Maryland.

Lee Paddock, associate dean of environmental law studies, will oversee GW’s involvement in the program. He believes the project holds great opportunities for the Law School.

“This will help us establish relationships with other programs and institutions in the United States, as well help us in building up the scope on the environmental law program,” he said.

Paddock also said that involvement in the project will offer the school a chance to focus on global issues.

“Environmental law is becoming increasingly international,” he said. “In order to structure environmental policy, you have to know what’s going on internationally. This project will allow students to know what’s going on in the world.”

The EPA-China Environmental Law Initiative is based around a Web site which, EPA officials said, will help facilitate the flow of information between China and the United States.

“The Web site will be a go-to source for companies, researchers, NGOs, and others seeking introductory information about China’s environmental law framework,” said Roger Martella, the EPA’s general counsel.

Although the program is in its early stages, members of the EPA have already established several areas of environmental law which are of “mutual interest” to China and the Unites States. These include management practices regarding imports and exports, as well as ways to effectively enforce environmental laws. They also plan to expand the program beyond the Web site.

Faculty and possibly students at the GW Law School will primarily be conducting research on these topics, especially regarding enforcement. Any research that “provides a significant contribution to the understanding of Chinese environmental law” will be posted on the website, said EPA officials.

“China is very interested in how you use economic incentives and tools to enforce laws,” Paddock said. “Compliance and enforcement issues are of great concern to them.”

Depending on need, GW Law students will also be recruited to translate United States environmental policy into Chinese, which will then be put on the Web site.

Dean Paddock said that the school’s goals for the program were twofold.

“On the substantive side, we’ll be making a contribution to improve information available to China,” he said, “However, we’re also providing the school with a stronger presence regarding environmental law.”

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