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Today, the Riigikogu deliberated a matter of significant national importance, environmental risks related to the gas pipeline planned in the Baltic Sea.Reports were by Chairman of the Environment Committee Mart Jüssi and Leading Researcher at the Institute of Cybernetics at Tallinn University of Technology, Member of the Estonian Academy of Sciences Tarmo Soomere.

Mart Jüssi gave an overview of the marine environment of the Baltic Sea as well as the agreements relating to the Baltic Sea and the basic problems in discussing this issue. Jüssi pointed to the fact that Russia has not acceded to the 2001 Stockholm convention on persistent organic pollutants endangering nature and human health, whereby states have entered into an agreement for protection of open marine environment from pollution caused by organic toxic substances. Nor has Russia ratified the Espoo Convention on Environmental Impact Assessment in a Transboundary Context which serves as the basis for assessing the environmental impacts of the large-scale infrastructure which is being discussed. Jüssi said in conclusion: “Today, there is yet no common understanding in the Baltic Sea space of the situation of this environment, the factors endangering it, and the liability which may result from the consequences of unconsidered or biased decisions.” The Chairman of the Environment Committee called everybody to address the environmental aspects related to the development of this gas pipeline with full attention and to avoid decisions which damage our living environment and may irrevocably ruin our future.
Tarmo Soomere introduced the analysis concerning the hazards arising from installation of the pipeline on the seabed, prepared by the national working group established by the Ministry of the Environment for assessing the environmental impact of the Nord Stream gas pipeline. Soomere stated that the Nord Stream working group environmental impact assessment documentation that had been introduced to experts in Hamburg the previous year had contained significant gaps with regard to both data and methods. Among other things, he noted that it was not clear how exactly the accident proofness of the pipe had been assessed. He also pointed out that dangers arising from disturbance of seabed sediments and shipping traffic have received weak consideration. Scientists are warning that, moreover, an ecological catastrophe cannot be excluded when war poisons are whirled into a water pillar. In Soomere’s words, references to numerous research reports and national environmental impact assessment data cannot be checked because Russia has refused to disclose its official version of environmental impact assessment. In Soomere’s estimation, that means that one fifth of the impact coming from countries of origin cannot be observed.
Many Members of the Riigikogu also presented their comments on the issue.
 
Riigikogu passed with 64 votes in favour the Statement on environmental risks related to the gas pipeline planned in the Baltic Sea (607 AE). The passed Statement expresses a concern regarding the possible environmental impact of the gas pipeline planned by Nord Stream AG. The Riigikogu notes that the assessment of environmental impact initiated on the basis of the Convention on Environmental Impact Assessment in a Transboundary Context has not sufficiently taken into consideration all the risks connected to the project and that the permits necessary for carrying out the project cannot thus be issued in respect of the generally recognised precautionary principle of international environmental law. Also, it is considered vital that the competent authorities of the countries bordering the Baltic Sea seriously consider all the environmental risks of the project, taking into account the most comprehensive scientific data available and not basing their decision solely on the deficient information provided by the developer. Nobody voted against the Statement and nobody abstained.
 
The Act on Amendments to the Nature Conservation Act (528 SE), initiated by the Estonian Green Party Faction, was passed with 56 votes in favour. The purpose of the Act is to guarantee effective protection of biological diversity of forests in limited management zones of protected areas and in special conservation areas. The Act would eliminate the possibility of performing clear cuttings endangering the richness of life in limited management zones of protected areas and in special conservation areas. According to the Act, in event of the protection rules established before 1 January 2009, the permitted size of clearcuts is two hectares and width is up to 30 metres and the size of shelterwood cutting areas is up to five hectares in limited management zones of protected areas and species protection sites unless the protection procedure provides otherwise. Nobody voted against the Act and nobody abstained.
 
On the motion of the Economic Affairs Committee as the leading committee, the first reading of the Bill on Amendments to the Participation in Legal Persons in Private Law by the State Act (591 SE), initiated by the same Committee, was concluded. According to the amendment, the possibility where the state may acquire the stocks or share of a company in which the state is not a shareholder or stockholder will be included among the ways of acquisition of stocks or shares by the state as provided in the Participation in Legal Persons in Private Law by the State Act. The amendment is necessary for separating Elering Ltd from Eesti Energia AS group as soon as possible in order to ensure smooth launching of electricity stock exchange and effective functioning of the electricity market. The Bill was sent to the second reading.
 
On the motion of the Constitutional Committee as the leading committee, the first reading of the Bill on Amendments to the European Parliament Election Act (524 SE), initiated by the Pro Patria and Res Publica Union Faction and the Estonian Reform Party Faction, was concluded. The purpose of the Bill is transfer to open party lists in the European Parliament elections. In the case of open lists, after the elections, candidates in the lists of political parties are re-ranked according to the number of the votes cast by electors. The Bill was sent to the second reading.
 
On the motion of the Social Affairs Committee, the Bill on Amendments to § 3 of the Parental Benefit Act (525 SE), initiated by the Social Democratic Party Faction, was rejected at the first reading. 44 members of the Riigikogu voted in favour of the motion and 31 voted against, nobody abstained. Thus, the Bill was dropped from the legislative proceeding.
 
 
The Riigikogu Press Service
 
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