Haifa Chemicals ammonia tanker.
(photo credit: haifahaifa.co.il)
During a Wednesday night meeting, Environmental Protection Minister Amir Peretz
demanded that Finance Minister Yair Lapid allocate the necessary NIS 70 million
to transfer Haifa’s ammonia tanker to the South, Peretz said
Speaking at the Pratt Prize environmental journalism awards in
Tel Aviv on Thursday, Peretz said the NIS 70m.
would be critical to
evacuating the Haifa ammonia plant and bringing it to a much safer, less
populated region in the South.
The 17,000-ton ammonia tank became an
increasingly hot-button issue after a Texas fertilizer tank exploded last month,
but it has long plagued the country’s environmentalists as a potential threat to
the Haifa Bay region.
While the government decided last year that the
plant must close and move to an unpopulated portion of the Negev by 2017, Peretz
declared two weeks ago that he would not renew the plant’s license after 2016.
As his ministry will be coordinating and leading the evacuation of the
container, the NIS 70m. budget is essential to establishing the necessary
infrastructure in the Negev and encouraging developers to build the plant,
according to Peretz.
During his meeting with Lapid, Peretz also attacked
the Finance Ministry’s intent to cut the greenhouse gas emissions reduction
program from the future budget. Peretz called such a move “ridiculous,” noting
that just because the country had cleaner natural gas, it did not mean a program
for monitoring greenhouse gases was no longer necessary.
understand budgetary claims, but it is difficult to hear claims stating that
there is entirely no need to clean the air,” Peretz said, noting that reducing
greenhouse gas emissions actually benefitted the economy.
program, the Environmental Protection Ministry provides support to 208
greenhouse gas emissions projects, totaling NIS 106m., the ministry
Among these projects are improvements to air conditioning
systems in hospitals and hotels, intelligent lighting systems in local
authorities, and replacement of electric boilers with solar-powered
These projects are expected to lead to a reduction of 450,00
tons of carbon dioxide annually by 2020, equivalent to the amount of pollution
that a city the size of Herzliya generates from electricity consumption each
year, the ministry said. In total, these changes would bring an annual savings
of NIS 100m.
“Eliminating Israel’s commitment to reducing greenhouse gas
emissions will first and foremost damage the credibility of the State of Israel
toward its commitments to international forums,” Peretz said earlier this week.
“Apart from the damage to international credibility, this will cause great
damage to both municipal and industrial systems.”