"Economic Development and the Environment"
on the Sakhalin Offshore Oil and Gas Fields II

Copyright (C) 1999 by Slavic Research Center, Hokkaido University.
All rights reserved

The Environmental Effects of Development
in the Angaro-Yenisei Region

Hiromitsu Kitagawa

Environmental Protection in the Russian Arctic
On a national scale, Russia is becoming more and more dependent on the Arctic regions. Hard currency revenues from abundant natural resources in the Russian Arctic might be the key to the country's survival. Despite efforts by the Russian government to establish new institutional frameworks for environmental protection and new patterns of interactions between the government and economic actors during the 1990s, there have been no encouraging signs of a shift towards sustainable development (Brubaker, 1993, et al.).
The development of legislation for environmental protection is vital in all regions of the Russian Arctic and, officially, is one of the government's top policy priorities. Protection is essentially granted under the following system (Kotov & Nikitina, 1999),
(1) federal environmental laws cover general and specific competencies,
(2) regional environmental legislation for northern Federation subjects
(3) agreement on the division of authority between the Federation and northern Federation subjects in environmental matters.
This legislative framework is, however, underdeveloped and contains serious gaps that need to be revised urgently, as experts pointed out.
An attempt has been made to introduce a new concept of national environmental management to create incentives for producers to reduce their emissions and to shift towards investing in purification facilities. This includes licenses and agreements for pollutant discharges, payments for pollution, and a system of environmental funds, federal, regional and local. Putting this system into effective operation should be a top priority.
Concluding Remarks
The ecosystem in the Angaro-Yenisei region is extremely vulnerable and lacks rehabilitation potential. There are, however, many other problems in the Russian Arctic, such as the lack of a unified policy on social and industrial development, unstable environmental controls over hydrocarbon and mineral resource development, low public attention towards environmental issues, shortages in financial support for environmental measures, etc.
By way of conclusion, the following passage is cited from Kotov's paper, as a warning against further development in the region and the Russian Arctic.
"According to some experts, areas with high levels of environmental pollution account for about 1.5 - 2% of the Arctic territory (not including marine areas), and areas with suffering critical ecological conditions account for about 15%. Man has transformed the ecosystem in more than 60% of the Arctic, and 2% has been completely destroyed. Air and water pollutant concentrations in areas of intensive industrial development regularly surpass allowable norms by 2 to 5 times the allowable limits, and during certain periods exceed the norms by 10 to 13 times, and sometimes by up to 300 times. Such pressures endanger the ecosystem and human health. The level of chronic diseases and infant mortality is high in Arctic regions with critical environmental conditions. Life expectancy in the Arctic is 3 to 4 years lower than Russia in general, and among indigenous people is 10 to 11 years lower. Unfavorable environmental conditions, especially in areas of industrial development, negatively affect the demography of indigenous peoples: they are on the verge of extinction, and are losing their cultural and ethnic distinctiveness, as well as their traditions that are closely linked to nature."

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