By the end of the Second World War, 80 per cent of Bulgaria's workforce was still employed in subsistence agriculture. By the 1960s, the economy had been transformed into an agro-industrial export economy dependent on inputs, credits, and orders from the Soviet Union and other Comecon countries. Like other economies throughout the region, national economic development in mining, industry and agriculture was achieved by the rapid adoption of large-scale technologies and organizational practices in which environmental and health concerns were minimized; what Green has called 'the hubris of giganticism' (Green 1989, p.1). In many ways it was this very hubris that brought the environmental and health consequences of rapid industrialization, urbanization and environmental degradation to the forefront of public concerns in the 1980s, eventually erupting as a mass mobilization of political forces for 'ecological defence' (EcoGlasnost n.d.; Pickles 1992; Pavlinek and Pickles 2000). The commitment to national development through forced industrialization prompted new environmental legislation in the 1980s (Table 14.1), and resulted in little political room for manoeuvre for the Zhivkov regime when opposition forces organized around environmental and health rights, particularly in the context of parallel opposition to state violence against the country's Muslim minorities (see Pickles and Begg 2000).
In this chapter, we focus on efforts to reform environmental legislation and administration since 1989, with particular attention to the role of geographical scale and popular action in this process. Initial commitments to environmental reforms were, in large part, responses to the power of popular action and of ENGOs. But this power quickly diminished as political and economic conditions changed after 1989. The normalizing of environmental politics also weakened efforts to implement stronger forms of environmental regulation, a withdrawal from commitment that was signalled in the spring of 1995 by the scandalous post facto rewriting of the Environmental Protection Act to retroactively legalize the construction of the Djerman-Skakavitsa dam and by the subsequent suspension of talks with the government by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) because of its lack of commitment to environmental reforms. But the chapter