Russian Duma to create Northern environmental protection group

Publish date: November 23, 2008

The Russian Duma has created a group focusing on the environmental problems of Russia’s far in response to the boomtown rush to tap the areas vast natural resources, specifically oil and gas, Russian media reported.

One of the group’s chief goals will be to prepare suggestions allowing researchers to define a balance between developing the resources of the Far North and guaranteeing a system of defending the environment form threats that will arise as a result of human and industrial impacts on the local environment.

The expert group, which has been directed by Rostislav Goldshtein, the deputy director of the Duma committee for problems in the Far North and Far East, has suggested the group be comprised of a wide circle of ecological specialists, such as Duma deputies, government department heads, business representatives, scientists and  representatives of non-governmental organisations, the news site reported.

Goldshtein said that over the past half century, Russia’s north has seen a spike in primarily the raw materials model of resource use, which has been accompanied by extreme industrial burdens on nature. Aside from this, Russia’s northern territories are characterized by vulnerable natural conditions and fragile ecosystems that have been formed over thousands of years.

“Today, many are speaking about a loosening of enterprises, which are having a hard time in conditions of a world financial crisis, including expenditures on natural preservation measures,” Goldshtein said.

“However, we must always remember the environment. If and unfavourable ecological situation reaches a threatening scale, all other efforts toward improving life will be senseless.”

The Duma group will have to decide issues like the adoption of the Russian Environmental Code, and preparation of laws in the sphere of economic regulation of environmental protection, including environmental audits, ecological certification, levying fines for negative impacts on the environment and establishing a methodology for calculating environmental damage, and establishing compensation scales for damage to the environment.