Clean Air Act goes into effect

First sweeping legislation governing air pollution in the country gets underway; industrial plants will be required to have emissions permit.

air pollution 298 ap (photo credit: AP [file])
air pollution 298 ap
(photo credit: AP [file])
After taking most of the past decade to pass through the legislative process, the Clean Air Act finally went into effect on January 1. It was passed into law in 2008. By comparison, the first Clean Air Act in the US went into effect in 1970.
Nevertheless, the Clean Air Act is the first sweeping legislation governing air pollution in the country. Under the Act, emissions limits are set, a system of emissions permits established, fines and levies worked out and a national plan to reduce emissions must be completed by year's end.
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The Environmental Protection Ministry said an expert committee was expected to return its recommendations by mid-January. Following which, the ministry, with the help of an international consultant, would determine the appropriate tools and develop a national plan.
Every industrial plant will now be required to apply for emissions permits. Incorporation under the Act will be gradual over the next four years with factories in the metal production and processing sector required to apply for permits by March.
The Act also merges all air monitors into one national network while increasing the number of substances monitored. The ministry will also be increasing the number of portable testers for vehicles from six presently to 11.
A database of emissions data will also shortly be available on the ministry's website in Hebrew.
The original version of the Act was first drafted by experts on behalf of the Environmental Protection Ministry but failed to pass through the legislative process. A private member's bill submitted by various MKs, drafted in part by the Israel Union for Environmental Defense, and championed by Omri Sharon when he was an MK, ground its way through the legislative process over a three year period, finally being passed into law in 2008. However, implementation was delayed until January 1, 2011 at the request of then minister Gideon Ezra so that the ministry could hire the requisite manpower.