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09ASTANA11 2009-01-06 09:58:00 UNCLASSIFIED//FOR OFFICIAL USE ONLY Embassy Astana
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1. (U) Sensitive but unclassified. Not for public Internet.

2. (SBU) SUMMARY: The Ministry of Environmental Protection has been
restructured, but faces a shortage of inspectors who inspect
enterprises to ensure they comply with emissions regulations.
Because it takes too long to get the Procurator General's permission
to conduct random environmental inspections, inspectors have
difficulty finding evidence that an enterprise is violating
emissions standards. Kazakhstan will adopt Euro-3 emission
standards in 2009. A proposed draft law to ban the import of
outdated equipment and technology also stipulates that all gas
stations will have to sell unleaded gasoline. END SUMMARY.


3. (SBU) In a December meeting with the Regional Environmental
Officer (REO), Senior State Inspector Bizara Dosmakova of the
Ministry of Environmental Protection's Committee on Environmental
Regulation and Control explained that her Committee is responsible
for implementing and overseeing the Ministry's environmental
policies. Dosmakova said the Committee issues emissions permits and
licenses to use natural resources and also conducts random
environmental inspections. She said the Ministry will transfer some
of its tasks, such as the issuance of licenses, to local governments
in 2009 and the Ministry will then focus on policy-making rather
than regulatory functions.

4. (SBU) Dosmakova said the Committee now faces a severe shortage of
state environmental inspectors and currently has only 525 inspectors
to cover the entire country. (NOTE: Kazakhstan is the world's ninth
largest country by area. END NOTE.) Dosmakova confessed that the
Ministry's recent reorganization created a less efficient structure,
combining the previous 14 oblast divisions and two municipal
divisions (Almaty and Astana) into nine larger administrative units.
Now, she said, applicants from Petropavlovsk (Kazakhstan's
northernmost city) have to come to Astana to submit their
applications for permits and licenses.


5. (SBU) Dosmakova said the Committee conducts regular annual
inspections of "large" enterprises (she said there are only 24 such
enterprises in Kazakhstan). Small- and medium-sized businesses are
exempt from all inspections for the first year of operation. In
addition to regular inspections, the Committee can conduct random
inspections at the request of people living close to allegedly
polluting enterprises. However, random inspections require
permission from the Procurator General's Office -- permission which
can take significant time, sometimes weeks, to obtain. As a result,
she said, inspectors often arrive on the scene too late to find any
evidence of unauthorized emissions. The enterprises either remove
all waste residue and contaminants, or they temporarily cease
production so that water and air pollution levels return to normal.


6. (SBU) According to Dosmakova, Kazakhstan will start applying
Euro-3 emissions standards in 2009, skipping the Euro-2 phase
altogether. (NOTE: Europe implemented its Euro-4 standards in
January 2005, with Euro-5 slated to come into effect in January

2009. Euro-3 standards took effect on January 2000. Bypassing the
Euro-2 phase means Kazakhstan is willing to progress faster towards
lower emissions than earlier agreed. END NOTE.) Dosmakova was not
sure whether the new draft law to ban the import of outdated
equipment and technologies would also include used cars. (NOTE:
Press reporting indicates that it will not cover used cars, the
importation of which is a lucrative business in Kazakhstan. END
NOTE.) One of the proposed law's main challenges according to
Dosmakova is the lack of means to get rid of older equipment and
technologies. Also, under the new law, all gas stations will have
to sell unleaded gasoline. (NOTE: Most large urban gas stations
already sell unleaded fuel. END NOTE.)

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7. (SBU) COMMENT: We have no reason to doubt Dosmakova's description
of the travails of her federal-level ministry. It is worth noting,
however, that oblast-level officials seem to have adequate resources
to harass and fine international corporate investors, especially in
the energy sphere, for alleged environmental violations. END