GENEVA – Alexandrian environmentalists are optimistic as the Imperial Government tabled legislation to protect the environment nearly eight months after it identified Cibolan Sea pollution as a serious problem.
The governing UMD party campaigned in January on a commitment to address environmental pollution, declaring the need to “halt as soon as possible” increasing pollution in the Inner Cibolan Sea. That red tide pollution, first brought onto the national agenda in August 2014 by senior UMD politician Paco Baez, spurred the party to commit to the creation of tough protection measures, including the creation of an Environmental Protection Agency, and the introduction of polluter-pays regulations.
The resulting Environment Bill, introduced yesterday in Parliament by First Consul Sebastian Goddestreu, will see the UMD meet its environmental mandate through important first-steps that include the creation of the aforementioned Agency.
The Agency will advise government entities, as well as create and enforce, through periodic inspections of industry, regulations to protect against air, soil, surface water and groundwater pollution. It will also be charged with investigating violators, who may face stiff fines such as 500 Ecus for every unit of pollutant released in excess of the regulatory maximum.
Also included in the Bill are tax credits of 50% to encourage Alexandrians and corporations alike to install sustainable energy systems and purchase from existing green energy sources.
In his prepared remarks, Goddestreu defended the slow response to Baez’s initial alarm eight months ago regarding the pollution in the Inner Cibolan Sea. “… Careful preparation was key so that this vital piece of legislation doesn’t need any patching up – we can’t be caught with faulty legislation when environmental disaster strikes,” he stated while calling the legislation’s powers “tough and decisive”.
Opposition Liberal Alliance leader Juana Beazcoetxea was less forgiving of the government’s delay, noting that the legislation had been introduced on the eve of the legislature’s dissolution, which is scheduled for April 12. “What does that tell us about the government’s priorities?” she quipped as she used the opportunity to promote the Liberal Alliance as the “greenest party in Alexandria” ahead of the forthcoming election. Beazcoetxea called the late introduction of the legislation a lost opportunity to ensure a detailed review to strength its provisions.
Political posturing aside, there is nonetheless bi-partisan support for the legislation and its core proposals. In his remarks, Goddestreau called on all legislators who supported the principles of environmental protection to “back this bill and empower us to take the most decisive step against the red tide and against future pollution ….” Beazcoetxea for her and the Liberal Alliance’s part responded with an extended hand to Goddestreau to “make the environment even better protected.”