Thursday, September 13, 2012

Israel and U.S. Sign Environmental Cooperation Pact

Erdan and Jackson sign environmental agreement
 as U.S. Ambassador Dan Shapiro looks on.
Twenty-one years after Israel and the United States signed a Memorandum of Understanding Concerning Cooperation in the Field of Environmental Protection, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Administrator, Lisa Jackson, and Israeli Environmental Minister Gilad Erdan signed an agreement to broaden environmental cooperation between the two countries.

Erdan began the meeting with Jackson by expressing condolences over the murder of the U.S. ambassador to Libya, J. Christopher Stevens. Following that, he and Jackson discussed the expansion of cooperation between the ministry and the EPA, such that it will include, among other topics: research and development, management of water resources, handling of radioactive materials, rehabilitation of lands and soil, environmental economics and air quality.

The collaboration will enable Israel to benefit from the vast knowledge and experience accumulated by Americans on various issues. For example, the ministry can learn from their experience with land-rehabilitation laws, which can help the ministry in its efforts to promote an Israeli land-rehabilitation law.
 Jackson is currently visiting Israel as a guest of the Ministry of Environmental Protection (as well as the Shafdan wastewater treatment plant, the Kinneret water technology incubator, Better Place).

She noted that she was impressed by Israel's capabilities in innovation and environmental technology and said that the United States has a great interest in learning from Israeli policies to encourage environmental technologies, such as start-ups to prevent water pipeline leaks, wastewater treatment, air quality monitoring, etc.
 Jackson also noted that Israel's natural gas discoveries have the potential to significantly reduce Israel's dependence on oil for transportation and improve the air quality in its cities.

Jackson added that the U.S. is also working to increase its natural gas use in transportation as a means of reduce dependence on oil imports.
 In addition, she said that in the U.S., the issue of the procurement of green products in government offices has progressed substantially as a result of President Obama's policies. All government agencies, for example, are obligated to purchase only green products. According to Jackson, this policy has led to substantial savings of public funds, as government offices spend some $500 billion on office equipment annually.

Project Green Government initiative, which the Environmental Protection Ministry is leading and expressed interest in adopting the U.S. policy. (EPA)

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