China has ordered fines for eight coal-fired power plants accused of violating pollution limits and in some cases, falsifying emissions data.
The power plants, in seven provinces, are affiliated with China's biggest power utilities, the Ministry of Environmental Protection and National Development and Reform Commission, said in a notice Thursday.
China is the world's largest polluter, relying on coal to supply about three-quarters of its surging electricity generation. Controlling pollution from power plants is a priority in its effort to reduce carbon emissions.
The plants were ordered to fix the problems by the end of the year. The agencies also ordered the withdrawal of subsidies paid to the companies for reducing carbon emissions.
The plants were found to have exceeded limits on sulfur dioxide emissions in 2010. In some cases, operators had disabled pollution control or emissions monitoring equipment, along with fabricating data to avoid punishment.
The Ministry of Environmental Protection's statement did not say how much the plants, some of which are affiliated with big power producers such as China Guodian Corp., China Huadian Corp., China Power Investment Corp. and China Datang Corp., were fined.
A report by the official Xinhua News Agency said the maximum fine for fabricating emissions data was 50,000 yuan ($7,900). Fines for violating limits on sulfur dioxide emissions ranged up to 100,000 yuan ($15,800).
China's government has pledged to reduce emissions by rejecting construction projects that pollute too much and developing new technologies to curb greenhouse gases.
But widespread violations and lax enforcement have limited progress in cleaning up the country's polluted skies.
Beijing has focused its emissions control efforts on three key air pollutants _ ammonia nitrogen, sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxide. It recently reported that sulfur dioxide emissions totaled 11.14 million tons in January-June, down 1.74 percent from a year earlier.
Annual sulfur dioxide emissions by the eight plants caught violating emissions standards totaled 94,427 tons, the government said.
China has set a goal for reducing sulfur dioxide emissions during 2011 to 2015 _ the span of its current five-year plan _ by 8 percent.