A portion of the royalties the state receives from natural gas and oil drilling
should go into a fund for developing sustainable energy solutions for the
country’s future, a new report from green advocacy group Adam Teva V’Din (Israel
Union for Environmental Defense) argues.
The report was presented at a
session of the Knesset environmental- social lobby on Tuesday afternoon, as part
of the Knesset’s annual Environment Day.
If the natural gas supply is
being depleted now, the current generation needs to provide for the energy needs
of the future, and the report suggests that one-fifth of the state revenues from
oil and gas royalties should be dedicated to this cause. According to an
economic analysis within the report, by 2035, this share of the revenues will
reach about NIS 24 billion, an amount that could be used for developing
renewable energy sources and energy efficiency.
“It is necessary to
establish already today a dedicated fund whose money will be used as an
investment toward development and research of the energy market in order to
secure the future of our children,” Adam Teva V’Din executive director Amit
Bracha said in a statement about the report.
Representatives from the
environmental organization will be speaking with Energy and Water Minister Uzi
Landau on Thursday to see if he would consider promoting such a stipulation in
bill form. If not, the team will approach a Knesset member for private
bill promotion, Bracha told The Jerusalem Post after the session.
second issue the report revealed was that about 25 kilometers off the coast,
Israeli maritime territory is an economic zone and does not have to abide by the
country’s environmental regulations.
“What we are very much worried about
is that the companies doing the drilling are taking advantage of the fact that
the Israeli law doesn’t apply to the economic waters,” said Bracha, who also
wants to promote a bill to change this situation. “When they are drilling in the
economic waters they can do whatever they want.”
A third item, he
explained during the session, is the apparent disconnect between the need to
produce energy and the need to protect the environment.
“There have to be
real regulations on all subjects of drilling in Israel,” he told
Particularly, the Energy and Water Ministry should not be
in charge of both issuing drilling and production permits, and providing
environmental authorization, Adam Teva V’Din representatives explained. Only
after the 2010 BP disaster in the Gulf of Mexico did the United States learn
that these two responsibilities must be separated, governed by two different
bodies, according to Bracha.
“We should not wait for catastrophic
disasters to apply the lessons learned in the US,” he said in the report
MK Dov Henin (Hadash) agreed, adding in the statement that
“completely different thinking is required on gas and oil in the
Mediterranean. We can transform this blessing into a curse.”
this specific issue, Bracha told the Post that he did not think a bill was
necessarily required, as the two ministries could simply come to an agreement on
their own about the distribution of responsibilities.
“We will leave it
to the government,” he said – noting, however, that “of course we are going to
put a lot of pressure” on officials.
The report also covers a wide range
of environmental impacts that can result from sea drilling, including from use
of chemicals during drilling, dumping contaminated mud and water into the sea,
and oil and gas leaks – all of which, the report argues, can pose potential
threats to marine flora and fauna.
“There is no updated or designated
regulation and legislation in Israel [for] the environmental aspects regarding
the search for gas and oil reservoirs,” said attorney Dana Tabachnik, the head
of economics and environment at Adam Teva V’Din. “Leaving the political and
regulatory situation as it is today is dangerous to the environment and to
public health and the marine population, and is likely to lead to an ecological
crisis that is both environmentally and economically destructive.”