Environmental Protection Min. not living up to its name

Budget cuts have kept the Environmental Protection Ministry from effectively dealing with issues such as pollution.

environment ministry88 2 (photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
environment ministry88 2
(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
The Environmental Protection Ministry is failing to do its job properly, according to a new study released Wednesday by the Macro Center for Political Economics. The ministry has been severely hampered due to repeated budgetary cuts over the last few years, the study said. "We need to increase the budget and the question is by how much," Noga Levtzion-Nadan, director-general of the environmental policy organization GreenEye, told The Jerusalem Post. "Whatever is put into the ministry, that is how much we will get out of it." Calls to the Environmental Protection Ministry for comment were not returned by press time. Between 2000 to 2006, the ministry's budget shrank about 44 percent, the report said, while the ministry's 2008 budget is projected at NIS 256 million - the lowest of all governmental ministries. Meanwhile, environmental threats such as pollution from cars is expected to increase. "Not only does the budget of the ministry need to be increased, but they also need to develop a strategic policy for the environment," Levtzion-Nadan said. "In England, the country's budget is presented with targets and objectives, in which is included the protection of the environment; this is from the Finance Ministry in England, not the Environmental Ministry. Here, environmental protection is not seen as a strategic tool and the environment is not budgeted because no one takes it seriously." According to numbers provide by Levtzion, a clear connection can be seen between the ministry's budget and its output, with activities surging in response to budget increases. "Not only is the budget for activities small, but the ministry may cut it down even further to put more money toward salaries," Levtzion said. "Can such a small budget really protect Israel?" Meanwhile, Dr. Shlomit Paz of the University of Haifa on Wednesday said that should global warming continue to increase, Israel will see a significant jump of infectious diseases, especially West Nile Virus and Vibrio-vulnificus cases. Vibrio-vulnificus, which can be found in coastal areas, ponds and estuaries, is related to the bacteria that causes cholera, while West Nile is an infectious disease that first appeared in the US in 1999. "We are talking about an increase of possibly hundreds of cases in the country," Paz said.