The battle against the construction of the coal-fired power station in Ashkelon, Israel, last month, reached its peak. At 8 pm promptly, thousands of residents of southern Israel extinguished their lights for an hour, in order to protest against the construction of coal-fired station in their region. The residents were not standing alone in the battle: It’s been years that the green organizations in Israel have been fighting against the construction of the station.
The activists claim that the establishment of a new coal-fired power plant will make us weep for generations: According to their research, the activity of burning coal and the change of its physical state to a consolidated gas is making it the most dangerous type of fuel pollution in the urban environment. As per their documents, building another coal-fired power station in Ashkelon will increase greenhouse gas emissions in the country by 13%. This contradicts Israel’s president Shimon Peres’ speech in the recent global climate conference in Copenhagen where he stated that Israel will lower its greenhouse gas growth by 20%.
In spite of of those reports, the Israeli Ministry of Infrastructure claims that there is no resort but establishing the coal-fired station. They argue that the current state of the economy requires the establishment of the additional station, as the electricity sector situation is as severe as the water situation. The only difference between the two emergencies is that the authorities didn’t didn’t make the general public as aware of how great the problem is: In case one if the power station stops working, the whole country will be paralyzed due to the lack of energy.
The official battle against the construction began in June 2008, when national infrastructure committees decided to establish the station. The green organizations started the battle against the decision shortly thereafter and managed to gain countless support from various sources.
In February the Health Minister announced that he opposes the establishment because i’s great health hazard to the residents of the city: “Building new power stations based on coal burning, is certainly involved with air pollution,” stated the deputy of public health office, Dr. Itamar Grotto, “as there is a clearly proved connection between air pollution, morbidity and mortality, the Ministry of Health objects the establishment of new coal-fire based power stations, especially largely populated areas.” The Environment Minister, Gilad Arden, joined the organizations’ battle in April, as well as the Israeli Energy Forum, which announced its support in August.
“Green Course,” the student-run green NGO organization was able to raise more than 20,000 signatures against the construction of the station, which were sent to the Committee of National Infrastructures. In October, the establishment of coal-fired opponents received a significant reinforcement. More than 3 senior academics in the field of science and environmental studies in Israel wrote a letter to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, and demanded urgent intervention to halt the program. Despite the numerous objections, it appears that the national infrastructure committee will reject the objections to the establishment of the station, and pass the ball to the ministers which will decide the matter.
This post is written by Eyal Datz, a green correspondent for the popular news portal, Walla (in Hebrew). He attended the Green Prophet environment blogging workshop in Madaba, Jordan.
Read more on Green Prophet’s blogging workshop:
Multifaith Writers and Activists Unite in Jordan
Green Bloggers Page (with all updates)
Meet the green bloggers and activists from Jordan
Part I: Learn About Jordan
Instigating Environmental Awareness in Palestine