"A Practical Guide to a Complex Agreement" - On the Agreement to Implement Standards Regarding Emissions of Pollutants to the Air
Green-Blue-White, Vol. 22
Tzvi Levinson & Tal Tzafrir - Attorneys at law
In January 1998 the Ministry of Environment and the Federation of Industrialists signed an Agreement to Implement Standards Regarding the Emission of Pollutants to the Air. This Agreement is the first of its kind in Israel signifying a deviation from the reigning "Command and Control" approach. A firm joining the Agreement by its signature voluntarily accepts to keep the emission standards prescribed in the first schedule. These standards were set according to the "Best Available Technology" principle taking into account the cost and efficiency of proven, wide spread techniques. And yet one should remember that the Agreement does not care to distinguish between different sectors of industry and the emission standards set in it are the same for every firm. The binding force of the Agreement is weak in that its requirements cannot run contrary to those embedded in statutory instruments. Thus, firms who are parties to the Agreement may yet find themselves compelled to adhere to stricter emission standards than those they voluntarily committed themselves to. Also, the Agreement is binding only upon the Ministry of Environment and other Authorities have also powers to set emission standards according to their own discretion (e.g. Local Business Licensing Authority or municipalities). Certain key terms in the Agreement are not clearly defined: Different standards are required of stacks in "sensitive" (mainly residential) and in "other" (i.e. non-"sensitive") areas. This is reasonable enough yet it is not clear how is the "sensitivity" of the area determined: By its designation in a local outline scheme? Or by the actual state of affairs? The engine behind the Agreement is the Implementation Committee. The Committee is a multi-functional mechanism designated to resolve disputes and construe the terms of the Agreement, provide a forum for discussing new standards and supervise the proper implementation of the Agreement. The wording of the Agreement places emphasis on public involvement in the workings of the Committee. But true to a spirit of secrecy that usually pervades brotherhoods, the Implementation Committee did not care to make public the fact of its meetings or the names of its members, not to member firms even.