>From: Global Response <firstname.lastname@example.org>
>Dear Members of Global Response's Quick Response Network:
>Russian environmental organizations and the Pacific Environment and
>Resource Center (PERC) asked us to circulate this Emergency Action. Please
>send a quick fax to World Bank president James Wolfensohn and US Secretary
>of the Treasury Larry Summers to pressure the Russian government to
>reinstate environmental agencies that were abolished in May. A model
>letter is given below.
>URGENT CALL FOR EMAILS AND LETTERS
>On May 17, 2000, newly-elected Russian President Vladimir Putin abolished
>the Committee on Environmental Protection, Russia's primary independent
>environmental enforcement agency, and the 200-year old Russian Forest
>Service. The remains of both were folded into the Ministry of Natural
>Resources, an agency responsible for the extraction, not the protection, of
>Russia's natural resources. This is roughly the equivalent of abolishing
>the U.S. EPA, and putting its responsibilities under the Department of
>Commerce or Bureau of Mining. This act is illegal, and is the subject of a
>lawsuit that has been filed by the esteemed Russian environmental law firm
>Ecojuris. Despite this, the World Bank Group is proposing to go forward
>with several potentially harmful loans and guarantees to Russia in the
>forestry, gold, and coal mining sectors in the coming weeks. This topic
>will be discussed at the upcoming World Bank board of directors meeting on
>The effect of the World Bank approving these projects at a time when these
>environmental protection agencies have been abolished will be the
>encouragement of environmental destruction and the undermining of the rule
>of law in Russia. It's critical to put pressure on the World Bank to demand
>that the projects do not go forward until an independent Committee on
>Environmental Protection and Forest Service are reinstated.
>We strongly urge you to write to the President of the World Bank, James
>Wolfensohn, and to Lawrence Summers, Secretary of the Treasury, to urge
>them not to approve projects or disburse any existing loans that would have
>an impact on Russia's environment until these critical agencies are
>Here is some suggested wording you can use, which can be sent to
>email@example.com and Larry.Summers@do.treas.gov.
>Dear President Wolfensohn/Secretary Summers,
>Given the sudden and illegal abolishment of Russia's State Committee on
>Environmental Protection and the absence of any legally acceptable
>replacement I do not believe World Bank-funded projects that impact the
>environment in Russia can proceed in an environmentally, financially or
>legally sound way. I urge you to issue an immediate moratorium on all World
>Bank Group approvals for new projects in Russia, and to suspend all current
>projects, until a fully functioning and legal system for environmental
>protection is fully restored.
>You can also send via snail mail to:
>President James Wolfensohn, The World Bank, 1818 H Street NW, Washington,
>DC, 20433, USA.
>Secretary of the Treasury Larry Summers, Fax: 202/622-0073
>For more information, go to www.pacificenvironment.org.
>. The Ministry of Environmental Protection was created under
>President Mikhail Gorbachev in 1991. It was the result of a growing
>awakening amongst Soviet citizens and government officials that the rapid
>industrialization the country had undergone had created environmental and
>public health problems unparalleled anywhere else in the world. The
>explosion at Chernobyl was one of the major events leading up to this act.
>. Soon after Boris Yeltsin was re-elected President in 1996, he
>downgraded the agency from Ministerial to Committee status. This took away
>a great deal of its regulatory power, and its budget has been cut
>significantly since then.
>. Until its abolishment on May 17, 2000, The Committee had the
>authority to declare zapovedniks, or natural areas to be protected for
>scientific research. It also had the authority to approve or reject
>projects through a process called expertiza, which is similar to an
>environmental impact assessment.
>. The abolishment of The Committee has provoked outrage among Russian
>citizens. According to one poll, 87% of Russians expressed anger at the
>action, an extraordinary number considering Putin is otherwise a very
>popular president. Leading cultural and spiritual figures, including Aleksy
>II, Patriarch of the Russian Orthodox Church, have voiced opposition to the
>. The abolishment violates several articles of the Constitution,
>including the public's right to a healthy environment. This is the subject
>of a lawsuit brought forth in Russian court by the Russian environmental
>law firm Ecojuris.
>The abolishment has already had a chilling effect. A regional head of the
>Committee in Kamchatka recently abandoned his support for a United Nations
>program protecting two key salmon watersheds that are also coveted by the
>Ministry of Natural Resources for their gold and gas deposits. The reason,
>local activists say, is that he is concerned about keeping his job under
>the Ministry of Natural Resources.
>Rory Cox, Communications Director
>Pacific Environment and Resources Center
>1440 Broadway, Suite 306
>Oakland, CA 94612
>Ph: 510/251-8800 x302
>GLOBAL RESPONSE is an international letter-writing network of environmental
>activists. In partnership with indigenous, environmentalist and peace and
>justice organizations around the world, GLOBAL RESPONSE develops "Actions"
>that describe specific, urgent threats to the environment; each "Action"
>asks members to write personal letters to individuals in the corporations,
>governments or international organizations that have the power and
>responsibility to take corrective action. GR also issues "Young
>Environmentalists' Actions" and "Eco-Club Actions" designed to educate and
>motivate elementary and high school students to practice earth stewardship.
>P.O. Box 7490 Phone: 303/444-0306
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