The Natural Gas and the Natural Environment
Haaretz, Israeli daily Newspaper
An Interview with Advocate Tzvi Levinson
Following rising public interest in natural gas production near the Israeli coast and the Exclusive Economic Zone, this article attempts to look at the environmental aspects of such activities and the legal framework in which it takes place. Certain aspects of natural gas production do not differ from other enterprises – construction is permitted under the Planning and Building Law 1965; operation is handled by the Businesses Licensing Law 1968; and the Hazardous Substances Law 1993 oversees dealings in substances posing a danger to the environment and health. Other relevant statutory instruments have regard for the extraction of natural resources – the Mines Act 1925 and the Petroleum Law 1952. The "superintendent" charged with permitting activities coming under these laws may set environmental requirements in such permits. Beside this general legislation there exists specific legislation designed to protect the marine environment from pollution – Prevention of Pollution of Sea-Water With Oil Act [New Version] 1980 and the Prevention of Pollution of the Sea From Land-Based Sources 1988. A recently proposed amendment to the Law seeks to broaden its scope to cover emissions to the air that pollute the sea. Israeli environmental law still lacks legislation setting air emissions standards, so this aspect of the production activities lies unregulated as yet. These laws together with terms from the international law were reviewed during the interview.