“” We have to conduct thorough [research] on ecological and environmental fac- tors, as well as on impacts on countries in the lower reaches of the river. —Bai Enpei, Secretary of the Communist Party of China Yunnan Committee, in China Daily
The last free-flowing river in China could soon be dammed as part of an ambitious hydropower program to boost the country’s non-fossil
fuel energy output to 15 percent by 2020.
Hydropower has no carbon emissions, a
powerful counterpoint to the highly polluting coal plants in the region. Yet the plans
for a reservoir and four dams on the Nujiang
River could mean displacing up to 60,000
human residents as well as more than 7,000
plant and animal species in the area.
There are also questions of whether the
dams—to be located in a seismically active
region—could withstand an earthquake or
other natural disasters like those that sparked
Japan’s recent nuclear plant emergency.