Corruption Plagues Lebanese Environment Movement and Energy Exploration

lebanon oil spill from the airIf Lebanese sewage dumping can be seen from the air, it is centainly seen, and smelled on ground level.

Rampant corruption and nepotism among Lebanese government officials is causing a delay in improving the country’s environment, according to the Lebanon Daily Star. The remarks were made by the country’s environment minister, Mohammad Rahhal during a conference ‘The State of the Environment in Lebanese Courts, which was held in Beirut on World Environment Day in May. Mr. Rahhal said: “When we go to the Cabinet to submit plans or legislation we first have to go through the administration – so we go to one office which must have signatories from another office which is then ratified by another department … and so forth.”

Of course, anyone familiar with the way such business is carried on in many parts of the Middle East, cannot be surprised that this is very “par for the course ” in regards to how such matters are dealt with, especially if all kinds of  “vested interests” are involved – especially by local authorities.

According to the local reporter in Lebanon, there is currently no implemental law that can be used to target environmental abusers in Lebanon, with the closest law being Law 444 – the Environmental Protection Framework Law – 2002 which stipulates that all public and private proponents must undertake an environmental assessment for all projects which are likely to affect the environment.

Perhaps this might explain why such environmental abuses such as the huge Sidon garbage mound at the sea are so bad that “it can be smelled long before it can be seen,” and the fact that sewage plants are allowed to dump their waste straight into the sea causing grief and low catches for local Lebanese fishermen.

Despite the Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri wanting to eliminate corruption, this effort may be sooner said than done, due to the tremendous influence the Hezbollah has in Lebanese politics, in which they demand that their own vested interests be dealt with first.

Corruption within Lebanese political circles may also be influencing the country’s energy exploration in the eastern Mediterranean; right now there are disputes over rights to drill in natural gas fields in which the Lebanese claim ownership in gas fields discovered by Israel.

While Israel has a signed agreement with Jordan on the sea border in the Gulf of Eilat, and unwritten agreements with Egypt and the Palestinian Authority, no such agreements have so far been reached with Lebanon.

And with a Lebanese government not able to solve its own environmental problems, due a lot to various political factions not being able to work together.  there is no way that international issues such as rights to oil and natural gas fields in the eastern Mediterranean seabed will be solved any time soon.

More articles on Lebanese environmental issues:

Sidon’s Garbage Mound is Worse Than Just the Smell

Lebanese Garbage Trucks Dump Directly into the Sea

Lebanese Environment Inaction May Affect Entire Region

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