A leading official from the government's environmental watchdog has called for changes to the law making it easier for members of the public to sue polluters. Pan Yue, the often-outspoken deputy director of the State Environmental Protection Administration (SEPA), said a special public interest litigation mechanism would help members of the public protect themselves against the country's worsening environment. If cases were successful, the courts could then order the violators to stop their polluting activities, pay for any damage and restore the environment to its prior state. He said clarifications were needed to existing laws, especially the status of public interest litigation. Given that authorities lacked the power to act on violations, Pan said citizens should be empowered "to bring actions against the violators".