MK Dov Henin (Hadash) blasted Energy and Water Minister Uzi Landau’s decision to authorize new oil and gas regulations on Sunday.

The regulations, which the ministry said will now require environmental certification for certain drillings, were published three months ago for public viewing, after which the office received and examined many comments. Incorporating public concerns, the new regulations will require that all oil and gas drilling requests be brought before the relevant regional committee, which can, at its discretion, require documentation that the drilling will be environmentally sound, according to the ministry.

The regulations also distinguish between temporary drilling sites and commercial sites slated for production.

For temporary sites that will contain exploratory drilling, the company will need to submit its proposal to the regional committee, going through an approval procedure that includes a committee hearing and a stage of public objections, the ministry said.

For commercial phase drilling, in addition to submitting a detailed plan to the regional committee, the drilling license holder will also need to file a request for land re-zoning, as commercial production will be occurring on the land.

In Henin’s opinion, however, the government should revamp the entire 1952 Oil Law, which he labels as “archaic” and asking for disaster.

“We cannot provide a green route for oil drilling,” Henin said. “Such drilling, in the sea and on land, holds enormous environmental risks. Concessions that the government is now providing are likely to lead to grave environmental crises, like the disaster in the Gulf of Mexico. There cannot be any supertanker that will repair the tremendous damage created.”

The government, he continued must “urgently enact an updated and balanced oil law” to protect its citizens from oversights and disasters that often occur in drilling situations.

“Oil tycoons will benefit from the new regulations, but I am afraid that we will all pay dearly,” Henin said.

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