With only a week left by law to approve a national plan to prevent air
pollution, cabinet members have yet to vote on the issue, allegedly due to
Finance Minister Yuval Steinitz’s financial opposition to the
Launched by the Environmental Protection Ministry, the program
comes under the jurisdiction of the January 1, 2011, Clean Air Law, which
mandated that the government enact such a plan within one year’s time, according
to Adam Teva V'Din (Israel Union for Environmental Defense) Executive-Director Amit Bracha.
Should the government fail to approve the program within the next two weeks or
so, Bracha said Adam Teva V'Din plans to file a petition with the High Court.
law says very clearly that the national plan has to be approved in a year from
January 1, 2011,” Bracha told The Jerusalem Post,
noting an approval on any
later date is simply illegal. “The government is not complying with the Clean
Air Law,” he added.
The Environmental Protection Ministry expressed
surprise after hearing from the Finance Ministry this week that the program was
Unfortunately, the Treasury is unable to see the enormous
impact the plan would have on the environment and the Israeli public, a ministry
The Finance Ministry declined to comment.
Clean Air Law itself was first in the process of being approved, there had been
a lot of conflict between the finance minister and other officials due to the
expectedly high budget that such a law would require, Bracha said.
were disagreements between both parties, but at last the law was approved,” he
WhileAdam Teva V'Din believes several improvements could be made to the
national program in its current form, the organization praised the ministry for
preparing a comprehensive plan and bringing it to the table.Adam Teva V'Din, along with
the Coalition for Public Health, suggested the environment ministry and the
cabinet implement a series of additional measures alongside the plan,
specifically relating to the transportation sector. The government should
declare Jerusalem, Haifa and municipalities in the Gush Dan region as official
air pollution “victim regions,” and all the relevant authorities in these areas
should coordinate their efforts regarding transportation, according to the
The groups said the government must formulate a new plan
for enhancing the country’s mass transit system, so that it is a reliable, clean
and accessible alternative to private vehicles.
But regardless of whether
these additional steps are taken, Bracha stressed that the national program for
preventing and reducing air pollution must be approved.
“The law is very
clear about it – it’s not giving the government permission to approve the
national plan,” Bracha said.
“They must, in one year’s time, approve it.”