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Local Environmental Monitoring and Determination of its Place in the Environmental Management System

Natalia M. Zaslavskaya, Candidate of Law, Department of Environmental and Land Law, Law Faculty, Moscow Lomonosov State University, Moscow, Russia

The article is devoted to local environmental monitoring. It is the function of environmental management which did not obtain legal regulation at the federal legislative level, but which has been developing in legislation of the RF constituent entities. The use of the term "monitoring" in the name of this management function implicitly refers it to a variety (subtype) of environmental monitoring. However, a detailed consideration of the local environmental monitoring content makes us stumble at correctness of such an approach.

Environmental management is a set of specific activities. The activities are typical and united by common features in specific groups called functions. Traditionally, functions have been defined as main lines of activity expressing the essence and social value, objectives and tasks of a particular phenomenon in its inherent forms and methods. United functions of environmental management present a system in which the content of one function directly depends on the content of all the other functions, which is implied in the definition of this term[1]. 

Local environmental monitoring is the environmental management function that did not obtain legal regulation at the federal legislative level but has been developing in legislation of several RF constituent entities. In academic legal literature, local environmental monitoring is also studied insufficiently.

The use of the term monitoring to denote this management function implicitly refers it to a variety (subtype) of environmental monitoring. However, a detailed consideration of the local environmental monitoring content makes us stumble at correctness of such approach. Comparison of public environmental monitoring and local environmental monitoring illustrates it in the best way. 

In accordance with Article 1 of Federal Law “On Environmental Protection”, public monitoring of the environment (public environmental monitoring) represents complex observations over the environmental condition, including components of natural habitats, natural environmental systems, over ongoing processes and phenomena, evaluation and forecast of environmental condition changes.

We can often come across (with insignificant variations) the following definition of environmental monitoring in references: “a system of regular observations over one or more environmental elements in space and in time in accordance with the preset program”[2].

There are some remarks to these definitions.

First, it should be noted that the definition of environmental monitoring does not only imply regular observations, collection of data on the environmental condition in general and by separate elements, but also analysis and evaluation of the data received as a result of such observations. These monitoring stages, including comparison, correlation, and interpretation of the observation results, are the most important stages and punch lines[3].

Thus, legal definition of the term “environmental monitoring” not only uses the term “observation”, but also implies a complex system of observations, evaluation and forecast that makes up the content of environmental monitoring[4].

Second, environmental monitoring is defined as observation, collection, analysis and evaluation of data not on environmental objects as such but on kinds of pollution, primarily man-made ones. Subject to the said criterion, the term “monitoring” that appeared in the 1970s was not intended to define existing geophysical services recording natural objects but “a system synthesised for revelation of anthropogenic effects in the environment by means of information and some elements of current geophysical services”[5].   

Clause 2 of the Policy on State Environmental Condition and Development Monitoring[6], subject to which state monitoring objects include atmospheric air, soils, surface waters of water bodies (including by hydrobiological indices), ozone atmospheric layer, ionosphere and near-Earth space environment, contradicts to the provisions of Article 1 of Federal Law “On Environmental Protection” in the part of defining objects of the environmental monitoring.

The public environmental monitoring system is built on specific principles[7], the main of which include:

The first principle – the hierarchical pattern of the system: local and regional observation networks and information resources convey information to complex service stations, the state data pool.

Entities performing state environmental monitoring include: the RF Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment, the RF Ministry of Agriculture, the Federal Service for Hydrometeorology and Environmental Monitoring, the Federal Service of State Registration, Land Register and Mapping, the Federal Agency of Forestry, the Federal Agency of Land Use, the  Federal Agency of Water Resources, the  Federal Agency of Fishery and executive authorities of the RF constituent entities in accordance with their competence set by the RF legislation.  

General coordination of work on organization and functioning of the integrated monitoring system is exercised by the RF Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment. However, a significant role in organization and execution of state monitoring belongs to the Federal Service for Hydrometeorology and Environmental Monitoring (clause 3 of the Policy on State Environmental Condition and Development Monitoring).

The observation service consists of several stages.

The primary stage includes territorial authorities, laboratories, observatories and monitoring observation stations: stationary observation stations set up in cities, on water bodies and streams both within regions of increased anthropogenic impact and unpolluted areas; a complex of laser and sound locators; mobile ground laboratories; airplane and helicopter laboratories; space monitoring means.

The middle stage includes scientific and research centers analyzing the received data. Based on the data accumulated by observation stations, thematic environmental maps are formed, recommendations for decrease of the pollution level are generated and parties guilty for pollutions are detected at this stage. 

The upper stage is the main center coordinating and planning the work of the entire observation system, generalizing and analyzing the conveyed information, as well as evaluating and forecasting environmental condition and change and providing public agencies, economic organizations and all interested parties with systematic and urgent information on the environmental condition and changes[8].  

The second principle – complexity of observation and research. Simultaneous monitoring of the abiotic component (atmosphere, air, soils and geological environment) and the biotic component (vegetation, fauna, ecosystems). Environmental condition and changes help to catch unification and comparison of data of meteorological, hydrological, geophysical, geochemical and biological observations and researches.

Modularity of building – the third principle. The state environmental monitoring system is divided into blocks: environmental condition and pollution monitoring, atmospheric air monitoring, the RF domestic marine waters and territorial sea monitoring, the RF exclusive economic area monitoring, the RF continental shelf monitoring, the RF radiation environment monitoring, environmental monitoring of the unique ecological system of lake Baikal; state monitoring of lands, fauna monitoring, monitoring of game resources and their habitat, forest pathology monitoring, mineral resources monitoring, water bodies monitoring, water biological resources monitoring.  

The fourth principle - continuity of observation. Thus, for example, observation (by obligatory and additional observed elements) over the atmospheric air condition is held every day, over precipitations and their falling – every week (approximately 50 times a year), over surface waters – up to 8 times a year (3 times during the high water period and once during the dry water period), over soils and bottom sediments – 2 times a year[9]

The fifth principle – comparison of measurements, assessment and forecast ensured by application of the integrated international system of measurements, standards, primary instruments and standard samples.

The sixth principle of the state environmental monitoring system – operational efficiency (synchronism) of diagnostics and analysis of information received as a result of observations and generating of recommendations and forecasts: information received in the course of observation shall be operatively delivered, analysed and submitted in the form of conclusions and recommendations. Only provided that the shortest periods between the said three stages are observed, the results can be actually approved. Otherwise, the information on the environmental condition would not correspond to the facts, whereas during forecasts it could significantly change. 

The task of state environmental monitoring is to meet the demands of the state, legal and physical bodies in reliable information necessary to prevent and/or reduce unfavourable environmental consequences (Article 63 of the Law “On Environmental Protection”).

In scientific literature, depending on the scales of generalization of information received within environmental monitoring, it is subdivided into: global (performed within the framework of the global environmental monitoring system), international (for example, monitoring of transboundary transfer of pollutants), national (held within the framework of one country in view of environmental, economic and social features of a specific state), regional (environmental monitoring within the limits of one region, where, for example, the environmental condition differs due to specific features) and local (environmental monitoring of specific areas and places). 

In legislation of the RF constituent entities local environmental monitoring is defined differently: it is a system of continuous observations over the impact of a specific economic or other activity agent on the environmental condition[10].

Subjects of such monitoring are legal entities or individual entrepreneurs carrying out activity which affects or can affect the environmental condition independently and/or with participation of specialised organizations.

The list of local environmental monitoring subjects is determined by the RF constituent entities.

For example, in Moscow the basis for inclusion of anthropogenic factors in the list of local environmental monitoring subjects is availability of one of the following conditions: 1) repeated violation by a man-made facility of standard rates of permissible pollutant emissions (discharges) in the environment (as concluded by an authorised body); 2) prevailing contribution of pollutant emissions (discharges) from a man-made facility in the environment or physical impact of the man-made facility on the environment with excess of the set environment quality rates; 3) conditions determined in the conclusion of an authorised body on compliance of pre-project and project documentation with environmental requirements; 4) presence of excessive (temporarily agreed) pollutant emissions (discharges) in the environment at a man-made facility); 5) presence of gross atmospheric emissions at a man-made facility exceeding 100 tons a year; 6) presence of 10 and more units of waste gas treatment equipment at a man-made facility (Article 14 of Law of Moscow No. 65 dated October 20, 2004 “On Environmental Monitoring in Moscow”).[11]

The object of local environmental monitoring is activity of its subjects which affects or can affect the environmental condition.

In Moscow, local environmental monitoring is performed in respect of pollutants or physical impact factors with violated environmental quality rates, as well as in respect of substances with possible excessive pollutant emissions (discharges) due to technological production features of the man-made facility. The list of such pollutants and physical impact factors for each man-made facility is set by an authorised body based on the state environmental monitoring data.

Local environmental monitoring is performed for the purposes of timely, full and set transfer of local environmental monitoring data to public authorities. These data, as opposed to state environmental monitoring data, do not give an idea on the condition of a particular environmental component. This is only information on the activity of a specific economic operator. Local environmental monitoring is performed on a continuous basis, therefore, public authorities continuously observe the activity of economic operators.  

The relevant tasks, content, subjects and objects of state environmental monitoring and local environmental monitoring are different, which does not allow us to correlate these activities as a whole and a part.

Local environmental monitoring, state environmental supervision and industrial environmental control. Legal definitions of these terms are similar in many respects.

Under  Article 65 of the Federal law “On Environmental Protection” the content of state environmental supervision does not only include organizing and holding inspections of regulated subjects, taking measures on prevention and/or elimination of consequences of the detected violations provided for by the RF legislation, but also activities on systematic observation over fulfillment of obligatory requirements, analysis and forecast of the status of obligatory requirements fulfillment  by public authorities, local self-government authorities, legal entities, individual entrepreneurs and natural persons. 

Environmental control of production is performed by legal entities or individual entrepreneurs. They create a specific department and transfer full environmental information to public authorities.

Correlation of these functions is not typical of r the doctrine; such functions of environmental management as state environmental supervision and state environmental monitoring have been traditionally compared. 

State environmental supervision and state environmental monitoring have always been closely connected functions of state environmental management. They have been so closely connected that, as it has been noted by A.K. Golichenkov and in literature, in legislation there is no unity in approaches to the understanding of environmental monitoring versus environmental control.[12]

In the most general terms, we can outline three basic approaches to correlation of the said functions of state environmental management.

According to I.P. Gerasimov, for example, monitoring is not only an observation system but also an environmental condition control and management system exercised in different scales. I.P. Gerasimov judges by the fact that “observation”, “control” and “management” as related to the environment should be purposeful, interconnected and efficient (of full value) and that they cannot have their strict separate content. The author writes that the content of “observation” shall include some kind of “control”, whereas observation over something made without any correlation to control indices of the observed phenomenon will turn to be subjectless. In the same way, “control” of any phenomena will be just “an object in itself” without any management conclusions.[13]      

Under the second approach, state environmental monitoring is a component of the environmental supervision system. Thus, according to V.V. Petrov, the environmental supervision system “consists of the state system of environmental observation, state, production and social control”.[14]

Such a position was previously reflected in the legislation. In accordance with Law of the USSR No. 2060-1 dated December 1991 “On Environmental Protection”[15], the provisions on the state service for environmental supervision were included in the section on environmental control.

The third approach is most widespread. Its representatives consider state environmental monitoring and state environmental control to be independent activities, functions of state environmental management having common objectives but characterised by different tasks, functions, content, objects[16].

However, it should be noted that independence of these functions should not exclude their interaction, which is practically absent at the modern stage.  

State environmental monitoring is a management function that must be connected with correct and timely response of the state on behalf of its authorised bodies to processes flowing in the “society-nature” sphere, but it can and should be a necessary condition of information support. Yet, currently, state environmental monitoring provides anonymised data resulting from environmental observations in general but not observations of its components. In spite of the fact that this information is useful to state environmental supervision authorities, it is hardly applicable in their practical activity. For example, state environmental supervisory authorities and their officers will benefit more from data on pollution provided by specific land users than just from data on the atmospheric air condition. 

This task can be solved within the framework of local environmental monitoring.

In view of the fact that local environmental monitoring is ignored by the federal law, the RF constituent entities can exercise their own legal regulation of this issue, including adoption of laws and other regulatory legal instruments.

Using this possibility, the RF constituent entities have combined strong points of state environmental supervision and industrial environmental control in local environmental monitoring and leveled “weak” points of these management functions.  

Local environmental monitoring together with state environmental supervision is mandatory. The difference is that provisions of the Federal Law “On Protection of Rights of Legal Entities and Individual Entrepreneurs”[17] are not applied to relationships in the local environmental monitoring sphere. In particular, the requirements set by the said federal law to the state environmental supervision procedure in the part of frequency, grounds and deadlines do not cover local environmental monitoring, which increases efficiency of the taken measures. Grounds for inclusion of man-made facilities in the list of local environmental monitoring subjects are determined independently by the RF constituent entities. Thereby, local environmental monitoring subjects can fully or partially coincide with the federal state environmental supervision objects.

Local environmental monitoring is similar to industrial environmental control because these activities are carried out independently by economic operators at their cost and by their forces or with participation of specialised organizations in respect of their economic and other activity and on a continuous basis. However, as opposed to industrial environmental control, subjects performing local environmental monitoring are named, and information transferred by them to public authorities is well-defined. 

Local environmental monitoring in the form stipulated by legislation of the RF constituent entities is a new function of environmental management, within the framework of which the state solves its objectives, using the funds of the land users.



[1] Function (from Lat. functio – commitment, execution) – relation of two (a group of) objects, in which a change of one objects leads to a change of another one. S.I. Ozhegov’s dictionary defines function as “a phenomenon depending on another one and changing as far as another phenomenon changes”.

[2] See, for example: Non-Destructive Testing. Reference book in 8 volumes edited by corresponding member of the RAS. V.V. Klyuev. Мoscow: Machine-Building, 2005, v. 8, p. 457. 

[3] See: Yu.S. Shemshuchenko. Kompleks ekologicheskoi’ ekspertizy i monitoring okruzhayushchei’ sredy [Complex Environmental Expertise and Environmental Monitoring]// Sovetskoe Gosudarstvo i Pravo [Soviet State and Law]. 1978, No. 10,  p. 95.

[4] Based on the content, main stages (“functions”) of environmental monitoring are outlined: observation  (implies collection of information on the actual environmental condition, impact of its factors on flora and fauna in the course of observation), expert evaluation (implies assessment of possible damage from anthropogenic and natural impact and determination of natural reserves to be used in human interests and optimal methods of human activity) and forecast (implies forecast of intensity of environmental impact sources and factors, as well as possible resultant changes in ecosystems) (See: А.K. Golichenkov. Ekologicheskii kontrol': teoriia i praktika pravovogo regulirovaniya [Environmental Control: Theory and Practice of Legal Regulation]. Мoscow, 1991, p.167).

[5] In view of the fact that initially several scientists proposed to define such a system as “environmental monitoring”, see, for example, Yu.A. Izrael. Ekologiia i okhrana okruzhayushchei‘ sredy [Ecology and Environmental Control]. L.: Gidrometeoizdat, 1979, pp. 149 – 208.

[6] Resolution of the RF Government No. 477 dated June 6, 2013 “O gosudarstvennom monitoringe sostoianiia i zagriazneniia okruzhaushchei‘ sredy” [“On State Monitoring of the Environmental Condition and Pollution”]// Sobranie zakonodatel'stva RF [Collection of  laws of the RF]. 2013, No. 24, Art. 3000.

[7] State Report “On the RF Environmental Condition and Protection in 2007” refers complexity and continuity of observations, coherence of terms of their holding with typical hydrological situations and changes of weather conditions, determination of indices by uniform methods on the whole territory of the country to principles of holding monitoring observations (See: Gosudarstvennyi‘ doklad “O sostoianii okruzhaushchei‘ sredy i zashchite RF v 2006 godu” [State Report “On the RF Environmental Condition and Protection in 2006”], p. 398).

[8] See: Gosudarstvennyi‘ doklad “O sostoianii okruzhaushchei‘ sredy i zashchite RF v 2006 godu” [State Report “On the RF Environmental Condition and Protection in 2007”], p. 398.

[9] See: О.L. Lavrik, А.N. Lebedeva. Ekologicheskoe zakonodatel'stvo razvitykh stran. Okhrana okruzhaushchei‘ sredy ot zagriazneniia: metody regulirovaniia i kontrolia [Environmental Legislation of Developed Countries. Environmental Protection from Pollution: Regulation and Control Methods]. Novosibirsk, 1992, p. 27.

[10] Law of Krasnodar Territory No. 2124-KZ dated December 07, 2010 “Monitoring okruzhaushchei sredy Krasnodarskogo kraia” [“On Environmental Monitoring in Krasnodar Territory”]// Novosti Kubani [Kuban News], 2010, No. 218.

[11] Law of Moscow No. 65 dated October 20, 2004 “Monitoring okruzhaushchei sredy Moskvy” [“On Environmental Monitoring in Moscow”]. Edited and supplemented by laws of Moscow No. 30 dated July 4, 2007, No. 45 dated November 21, 2007, No. 12 dated May 20, 2009, No. 35 dated July 13, 2011// Newsletter of the Mayor and Government of Moscow, 2004, No. 64; 2007, No. 42; 2007, No. 69; 2003, No. 33; 2011, No. 43.

[12] А.K. Golichenkov. Ekologicheskii kontrol': teoriia i praktika pravovogo regulirovaniia [Environmental Control: Theory and Practice of Legal Regulation.] Thesis for the degree of the Doctor of Law. Мoscow, 1992, p. 163.

[13] Yu.S. Shemshuchenko. Kompleks ekologicheskoi’ jekspertizy i monitoring okruzhayushchei’ sredy [Complex Environmental Expertise and Environmental Monitoring]// Sovetskoe Gosudarstvo i Pravo [Soviet State and Law]. 1978, No. 10, p. 94.

[14] V.V. Petrov. Ekologicheskoe pravo Rossii. Uchebnik dlia vysshikh uchebnykh zavedenii [Environmental Law of Russia. Textbook for higher educational establishments]. VEK Publishing House, Мoscow: 1995, p. 241.

[15] Journal of the Congress of People’s Deputies and the Supreme Court of the RF. 1992, No. 10, p. 457.

[16] А.K. Golichenkov. Ekologicheskii kontrol': teoriya i praktika pravovogo regulirovaniia [Environmental Control: Theory and Practice of Legal Regulation]. Thesis for the degree of the Doctor of Law. Мoscow, 1992, p. 173.

[17]  Federal law No. 294-FZ dated December 26, 2008 “O zashchite prav yuridicheskikh lits i individual'nykh predprinimatelei‘pri osushchestvlenii gosudarstvennogo kontrolia (nadzora) i munitsipal'nogo kontrolya” [“On Protection of Rights of Legal Entities and Individual Entrepreneurs at Exercising of State Control (Supervision) and Municipal Control”]. Edited and supplemented by (the last) Federal law No. 185-FZ dated July 02, 2013. Collection of laws of the RF, 2008, No. 52 (part 1), Art. 6249;  2013, No.  27, Art. 3477.

Bibliography:

  1. Non-Destructive Testing. Reference book in 8 volumes edited by corresponding member of the RAS. V.V. Klyuev. Мoscow : Machine-Building, 2005. v. 8. p. 457.
  2. V.V. Petrov. Ekologicheskoe pravo Rossii. Uchebnik dlia vysshikh uchebnykh zavedenii [Environmental Law of Russia. Textbook for higher educational establishments]. VEK Publishing House. Мoscow, 1995. p. 241.
  3. Yu.A. Izrael. Ekologiia i okhrana okruzhayushchei‘ sredy [Ecology and Environmental Control]. L. : Gidrometeoizdat, 1979. pp. 149–208.
  4. Yu.S. Shemshuchenko. Kompleks ekologicheskoi’ ekspertizy i monitoring okruzhayushchei’ sredy [Complex Environmental Expertise and Environmental Monitoring] // Sovetskoe Gosudarstvo i Pravo [Soviet State and Law]. 1978. № 10. p. 94–95.
  5. А.K. Golichenkov. Ekologicheskii kontrol': teoriia i praktika pravovogo regulirovaniya [Environmental Control: Theory and Practice of Legal Regulation]. Мoscow, 1991. p. 167.
  6. А.K. Golichenkov. Ekologicheskii kontrol': teoriia i praktika pravovogo regulirovaniia [Environmental Control: Theory and Practice of Legal Regulation.] Thesis for the degree of the Doctor of Law. Мoscow, 1992. p. 163, 173.
  7. О.L. Lavrik, А.N. Lebedeva. Ekologicheskoe zakonodatel'stvo razvitykh stran. Okhrana okruzhaushchei’ sredy ot zagriazneniia: metody regulirovaniia i kontrolia [Environmental Legislation of Developed Countries. Environmental Protection from Pollution: Regulation and Control Methods]. Novosibirsk, 1992. p. 27.