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Israel: Clean Air Legislation

(June 26, 2012) On May 29, 2012, the Knesset (Israel's parliament) passed an amendment to the Clean Air Law 5768-2008. A stated objective of the Law is to improve air quality and prevent and minimize air pollution by, among other measures, determining prohibitions and obligations in order to protect “… human life, health, and quality of life and to protect the environment, including natural resources, ecological systems, and biological diversity, for the public and for future generations … .” (Clean Air Law 5768-2008 [in Hebrew], SEFER HAHUKIM [Book of Laws, the official gazette] No. 2174 p. 752).

The Law requires a permit as a precondition for operating equipment that produces high levels of toxic emissions. A permit may be issued under the conditions and procedures enumerated by the Law, including the placement of a notice in a local newspaper of wide distribution, informing the public of the filing of a request for the permit and of ways to review the permit draft. (Id.) According to the Clean Air Law (Amendment No. 2 and Temporary Provision) 5772-2012 (hereinafter the Amendment), the 100-day waiting period following the publication of the notice that was previously required before the permit could be granted is now void. (Clean Air Law (Amendment No. 2 and Temporary Provision) 5772-2012 [in Hebrew], the Knesset website (last visited June 25, 2012).)

The Law generally requires permit drafts to be posted on the website of the Ministry of Environmental Protection. The Law allows the public to submit comments on the drafts within 45 days of publication of the newspaper notice. (Clean Air Law 5768-2008). The Amendment introduces a temporary authorization to limit this period to 21 days, for reasons connected with the provision of essential services or products, the delay of which may cause grave harm to the public at large. A brief summary of the Amendment states, “this temporary provision, according to the government, was designed, among other purposes, to facilitate a shortened procedure for the grant of permits of emissions from gas engines for the production of electricity, in order to overcome the expected shortage in electricity in the near future.” (Clean Air Law (Amendment No. 2 and Temporary Provision) 5772-2012, Brief Summary [in Hebrew], the Knesset website (last visited June 25, 2012).)