07/12/2010 04:36

Horowitz, Ezra also make NGO list of green MKs.

Hadash MK Dov Henin once again led the Israel Union for Environmental Defense (IUED) list of top environmental legislators, which was released on Sunday.

The environmental NGO examined the legislative record of the first session of the 18th Knesset. This is the eighth year the report has been published.

Henin led the list last year as well.

Newcomer Nitzan Horowitz (Meretz) quickly made his environmental mark in his first session in the Knesset, and despite the IUED’s having clashed strongly with Kadima MK Gideon Ezra when he was environmental protection minister, the NGO named him as one of its top five as well. Fellow Kadima MK Yohanan Plessner also made the list, as did MK Uri Maklev (UTJ), who edged out his faction colleague Moshe Gafni, a longtime environment supporter.

Henin proposed many environmental bills, as well as many agenda items and questions, the report noted. He has been cohead of the Social and Environmental Lobby since the 17th Knesset, and this session was also named chairman of the new Health and Environment Subcommittee. Henin championed public transportation, energy efficiency, water conservation, environmental enforcement and a host of other issues, according to the report.

Similarly, Horowitz focused on energy efficiency and water conservation, initiating a bill, which was passed, to install water-saving devices on all faucets in public buildings. He also revived the Save the Dead Sea Lobby and is now focused on pushing through a bill mandating grey water recycling systems for public buildings.

Ezra was conspicuous in raising environmental issues on the floor of the plenum, as well as pushing through a bill to enforce proper disposal of construction and demolition waste.

The IUED also praised his attendance during voting for environmental bills.

Plessner, too, was instrumental in getting the water-savers in public buildings bill passed, and in a relatively short time. He also put forward a number of questions on such issues as the abolition of the coastal preservation planning committee, and what the Environmental Protection Ministry was doing to prevent the erosion of coastal cliffs. The IUED also praised his stiff resistance to the planning and building reform.

Maklev, another newcomer, took it upon himself to champion public transportation and to challenge the Water Authority’s policies. He initiated a bill to anchor in law the right to designate a public transportation lane. He was also very active in fighting the drought levy and bringing to the Knesset’s attention the disproportionate impact of rising water costs on the weaker socioeconomic sectors of society.

Labor MK Eitan Cabel was also praised for his environmental efforts, particularly his objection to the Israel Lands Administration reform, which approved selling land to private developers as opposed to leasing it in Israel.

The IUED also made much of former Labor MK Ophir Paz- Pines, who resigned from politics earlier this year, for his considerable environmental efforts over the years. In the last Knesset, he was one of the organization’s top five and presided over the passing the Clean Air Act, which is set to go into effect this coming January.

The NGO also slammed the ILA reform, as well as the planning and building reform bill, which is making its way through committee now. The report derided the latter as a “destructive” reform that would greatly encourage “unsupervised development” while giving massive amounts of authority to the Interior Ministry at the expense of the planning committees.

Nevertheless, environmental legislation represented very little of this Knesset’s activities, never reaching more than 9 percent of any category – bills passed in preliminary readings, suggestions for agenda items and questions to the government.

Environmental legislation was also down in the 18th Knesset compared to the 17th: 34 bills passed preliminary readings in both sessions of the 17th Knesset.

In the first session of the 18th, 12 bills were approved in preliminary readings, representing just 7% of the 162 bills passed in preliminary readings.

Agenda items did show some improvement, however. Of suggestions for agenda items, 4%, or 114, were environmental in nature in the first session of the 18th Knesset. In all of the 17th Knesset, 3%, or 127, were environmental in nature.

There were 88 questions on the floor to the government about environmental issues, out of 860 total – some 9%. In the previous Knesset, there were 195 out of 3,584, or approximately 5%.