Russian enviros are concerned that President Vladimir Putin is sacrificing environmental protection in pursuit of economic growth. Their biggest complaint is that Putin transferred the powers of the State Committee on Environmental Protection, the country’s equivalent of the U.S. EPA, to the Ministry of Natural Resources, whose role up to now has been to authorize corporations to extract natural resources. The ministry has since announced its intention to “simplify” Russia’s environmental rules. Russian enviros have petitioned Putin to restore the powers of the environment committee, and on the international level, 67 enviro groups have written to World Bank President James Wolfensohn urging him not to release a $60 million loan to Russia until Putin reverses course. The Putin administration has mostly ignored the complaints, and the World Bank claims that creating a super-agency responsible for both authorizing resource extraction and assessing environmental damage may actually help the environment.

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