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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

New Green Laws Mark Environment Progress

Environmental law in Russia is still relatively new and untested. The first attempt at an effective system of environmental regulation was made just over four years ago with the enactment of the RSFSR Law No. 2060-1 "On the Protection of the Environment" on Dec. 19, 1991 (the "Environmental Law"). Unfortunately, the language of the Environmental Law provides little concrete regulation of activity and divides implementation responsibilities between federal and local authorities. While some of these authorities have issued regulations and other detailed instructions, a number of amendments to the existing law are still expected.

One area where some progress has been made is in environmental expert appraisals. On Nov. 30, 1995, the Federal Law "On Environmental Expert Appraisals" ("Appraisal Law") replacing a general clarification letter from the Environment Ministry was passed. Expert environmental appraisals have a significant impact on enterprise operations. A positive appraisal is required to finance and implement a project, and to register new companies with foreign investment planning large scale construction that could negatively impact the environment. As well, enterprises with foreign investment operating in the areas of oil and gas are required to obtain appraisals from the Environment Ministry prior to undertaking of any such projects.

The Appraisal Law provides specific criteria for conducting environmental expert appraisals and, like the previous Environmental Law, divides responsibility between the federal and local levels of government. It sets out the manner in which such appraisals are conducted, the persons who are authorized to act as appraisal experts and the types of investigations that can be conducted. It also provides a list of rights for companies undergoing an appraisal to ensure that the appraisal is conducted in accordance with legislated procedures.

Steps have also been taken by the federal government to license certain types of activities which are connected with the protection of the environment. Under new licensing regulations, licenses issued by the Environment Ministry are required for the use, storage, shipment, dumping and disposal of industrial and other kinds of waste products. In addition, licenses are required to undertake activities which involve the conduct of environmental audits and the protection of the environment.

Despite the progress which has been made in these areas, until similar legislation is passed on all aspects of environmental regulation, companies operating in Russia should consider the probability that such measures will be taken in the future and anticipate the costs involved in complying with these new requirements.

Jean Brough, an associate at Baker & McKenzie in Moscow, has been practicing law in Russia for four years.

These licenses are issued by the Ministry of Environmental Control and Natural Resources Protection of the Russian Federation and its various Branches ("Ministry"). The Licensing Regulations detail the types of documents which must be submitted in support of an application for a license. The decision to grant or reject an application for a license must be made by the Ministry within 30 days of reviewing the application. In certain cases, the decision can be extended by an additional 30 days. Licenses are issued for a period of three years and are not transferable.

Pursuant to the "Regulations On the Licensing of Certain Kinds of Activities in the Area of Environmental Protection," which was approved by Decision of the Federal Government No. 168 on February 26, 1996 ("Licensing Regulations"), l

Individuals violating the provisions of the Appraisal Law can face criminal, civil or administrative liability.

The law further stipulates the mechanism whereby the findings of the appraiser can be appealed.

These licenses are for a period of three years and are not transferable.