Ministry Aims to Revise Law to Push Ahead with Energy Policies in South Korea

The South Korean government is setting out to amend its energy law and elevate the status of the national energy committee to push ahead with its energy policies, which are already facing resistance from the relevant industries and residents.

The Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy said on Aug. 2 that it had submitted a revision proposal to the National Assembly for review in the hope that it will be put to a vote at the plenary session before the end of the year.The proposed amendments include stipulating basic principles and guidelines to help the nation uphold the administration’s shift toward renewable energy.

The government also plans to bring the national energy committee back under direct control of the president to gather opinions from related government bodies and experts more efficiently.

The national energy committee was initially designed as a presidential committee during the former liberal President Roh Moo-hyun’s term in order to review and confirm the nation’s energy policies and plans. But the committee was scaled down during Roh’s successor President Lee Myung-bak’s term. It is currently under control of the energy minister.

“Given the grave importance and impact of the nation’s energy shift, it is better for the government to have a control tower that can collect extensive opinions from different ministries and experts,” said Lee Sang-hoon, director of Green Energy Institute.

If the committee is brought back under the president’s direct control, the government may also become free of legal controversies, such as the ones that have been raised against the temporary suspension of construction of the Shin-Kori nuclear plants.

During a meeting with lawmakers at the National Assembly last Wednesday, Minister Paik Un-gyu was criticized by members of the leading opposition party for allegedly skipping the due processes to halt the construction. The establishment of a nine-member committee, which was formed under the president’s order to gauge public opinion, has no legal basis, opposition parties argued.

The Korea Hydro & Nuclear Power’s union members and nuclear experts filed on July 31 an injunction against the committee. 

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