MK tries to advance major environmental law reform

Knesset to debate conflicting laws that impede authorities from cracking down on public transportation pollution.

hadash mk dov henin 248 (photo credit: Knesset Web site)
hadash mk dov henin 248
(photo credit: Knesset Web site)
The dozens of conflicting laws that impede authorities from cracking down on pollution-emitting public transportation vehicles will be at the center of a Knesset debate Tuesday. The Knesset's Committee on the Interior and the Environment will discuss an article in the Clean Air Act that divides responsibility between local council authorities and the Transportation Ministry for reducing air pollution that comes from public vehicles such as buses and taxis. MK Dov Henin (Hadash) said that the problem lies in the numerous loopholes in the current legislation which fail to resolve who should be held responsible for maintaining the vehicles. "The local councils feel that they do not have enough authority to deal with polluting vehicles within their county lines," said Henin. "We are going to be examining the issue to discern who should be responsible, and how they should levy sanctions." Henin has been working on the Clean Air Act for more than a year in a special subcommittee dedicated for that express purpose. The act was originally drafted by the environmental organization Teva B'din, and introduced in the previous Knesset by former MK Omri Sharon (Likud). The complex set of ordinances would completely revolutionize the current air pollution laws in Israel, worrying transportation and industry lobbyists who say that it would take billions of shekels to implement. It would affect industries ranging from infrastructure, development, mining and manufacturing, and private citizens who own cars or air conditioners. Despite those broad implications, however, few MKs are aware of the law, and fewer still have taken part in the debate. Over the past year, Henin has convened officials from half a dozen ministries and leading environmental lobbies to discuss the bill. Most often, he is the only MK in the room. When changes to the bill are suggested, he can be the only MK present to vote in favor or against.