The Internal Affairs and Environment Committee, chaired by MK Amnon Cohen, approved for second and third reading the Environment Protection Bill (record-keeping and reporting requirements for emissions and transference to the environment), 2012.

The purpose of the bill is ”to increase transparency of the environmental information in Israel, to provide incentives to reduce emissions and transfers of pollutants and waste to the environment and to create a tool for decision making, research and policy making based on environmental justice, by taking, among others, the following steps:

Imposing reporting requirements on enterprises regarding emission and transference of pollutants and waste from the factories to the environment;

Establishment of a public registry that will be available for public inspection at any time, which will include information on emissions and transference of pollutants and waste;

Creating an inventory of the quantities of pollutants emitted or transferred to the environment;

– All to ensure the existence of an appropriate environment, in accordance with the precautionary principle, to prevent and reduce environmental and health hazards, to improve the quality of life and of the environment, for the public and for future generations.”

The background to the bill is the signing of the Aarhus Convention (named for the city of Aarhus in Denmark, where the Convention was signed) in 1998, which requires access to information, public participation in decision making and access to justice on environmental issues. Following this Convention the Kiev Protocol was signed in 2003, which deals with creating a Pollutant Release and Transfer Register (PRTR). This mechanism was adopted by the European Union and its Member States and by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Economic Development OECD.

During the discussion that took place today key points raised during the discussions in the law were summarized:

• It was decided that the green police will investigate offenses under the law (eg, failure to provide information or giving false or inaccurate information) and the maximum punishment for these offences will be up to year in prison (and not six months as was written in the original version of the bill).

• Another major issue discussed today was imposing financial sanctions. The Registrar could impose on who broke the law a financial sanction of 10,000 NIS, and if the offender is a corporation, the financial sanction could reach up to 100,000 NIS (not 250,000 NIS as was written in the original version of the law).

• Funding for the law will come from the government (and not from fees the original bill sought to impose on the enterprises).

• The first report from the factories was set to July 2013 for emissions generated in 2012. Publication of the information by the Ministry of Environment was set to December 2013.

As stated, the bill was approved for second and third reading, unanimously (attended the meeting: Chairman, MK Amnon Cohen and MKs Dov Hanin and Uri Maklev) and it will soon be put for a final plenary vote.

After the vote, MK Amnon Cohen, Chairman of the Committee, congratulated the Ministry of Environment and other ministries on their thorough preparation of the law. ”We voted today on a historical law. In less than two years any citizen in the State of Israel will be able to, by the touch of a button, find out about the next environmental risks and how to best act in relation to these risks. By this we raise the level of environmental awareness and transparency of industrial enterprises to the to that of the most advanced countries in the world,” said MK Amnon Cohen.