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Miloh was impatient to make a statement about his new job and put his Ministry on the map. Once the Interior Ministry transferred the person-nel and authorities from the Environmental Protection Service, Miloh was ready to hit the ground running. By May he had issued a personal decree against the problematic Castel quarry on the outskirts of Jerusalem.[19] He promulgated regulations that made the 1988 law controlling land-based dumping into the sea operational.[20] Other regulations finally made it onto the books to require garbage dumps to take active measures to prevent fires, such as covering trash with a fifteen-centimeter layer of dirt each day.[21] Ironically, if not inappropriately, it was Kanovich's air pollution statute that provided the legal foot in the door to regulate solid-waste facilities. Miloh's active participation in raising money for the trees of the scorched Carmel Forest in a twenty-four-hour telethon on Israel's only television station raised three million shekels, as well as the profile of the Ministry.[22]

But most of Miloh's time went into institution building. For example, he insisted that the Ministry go beyond an advisory role in planning at a regional level and establish formal district offices in each of the six regions of the country.[23] He also tried to push the Ministry's enforcement capability. Miloh had a sober perception of the feudal nature of Israeli governmental culture. It required each Minister to field a private militia to protect his fiefdom. The income-tax people had their commandos. The ultraorthodox had a Sabbath police (run by Druze), which they operated from the Ministry of Labor. Miloh had something similar in mind for polluters.

He went to the Ministry of Finance to negotiate a budget for some reasonable office space and proposed the comfortable Migdal ha-Ir high-rise in the heart of downtown Jerusalem. Predictably, the Ministry of Finance clerks balked at the exorbitant price. Miloh agreed to forgo the offices temporarily in exchange for funds to create an environmental pa-trol, jeeps and all.[24] The five-man patrol was set up initially under the auspices of the National Parks Authority.[25]

The battle over Haifa's air quality, however, was to be the defining con-test of Miloh's tenure as Minister of the Environment. When he asked his new staff what area was ripe for bold action, they did not hesitate: Go after air pollution, they said. They had a heap of unfinished business from the Environmental Protection Service. On April 30, 1989, only three weeks after Ariyeh Deri made Miloh responsible for the country's air quality, the highest sulfur dioxide levels in Israeli history were recorded in Haifa.

Weather patterns usually made air pollution worse during the spring and fall seasons along the coast, but the concentration recorded in Haifa, 2688 micrograms per cubic meter, was genuinely dangerous. It was more than three times the allowable level at the time and five times today's stan-dard.[26] Miloh jumped at the chance to tackle a high-profile problem. But if he was looking for a painless initiation to environmental politics, he had picked the wrong issue. The subsequent effort to improve the City's air quality was indicative of both an Environmental Ministry's potential and the intensity of the political brawl required to green the Israeli govern-ment's public policies.

The problem was the 3 percent sulfur fuel used most of the time by Haifa's power plant and oil refineries. When the winds died down and there was no air dispersion, even 1 percent sulfur fuel was not always enough to keep sulfur dioxide levels within acceptable levels.[27] The Israel Electric Company board responded by falling back on dilution—raising the pollution plume high above the land so that it would disperse before reaching the exposed population below.[28] But because of Haifa's unique topographic layout, the fifteen million dollars spent to raise smokestacks to a height of three hundred meters could not solve the problem.

To give Haifa's air the intensive care it demanded, Miloh first needed to revise Israel's national ambient air pollution standards. The 1971 stan-dards posed an obstacle to progress. First of all, the list was very narrow and did not include such basic pollutants as ozone, the leading indicator of photochemical smog.[29] The World Health Organization recomended a new list of air quality criteria that was almost three times as long.

A national committee of health experts had been comparing it with the allowable air quality levels in Israel and found several Israeli standards to be too lenient.[30] Ostensibly there was no reason that the WHO recom-mendation could not be signed into law.

The new, expanded list of pollutants was prepared for Miloh's signature, with new standards set as absolute ceilings on air pollution levels—unlike the old limits, which allowed for violations 1 percent of the time (a stan-dard that made little sense from either a public health or an ethical per-spective). It seemed like a simple solution. On May 7, 1989, the Minister was only too happy to issue the new standards as the basis for his crack-down on polluters. But the powers-that-were at the Haifa Oil Refineries and the Israel Electric Company had other ideas, and they were used to getting their way.

Under a 1985 Directive from the Attorney General, Israeli government Ministers must consult with all other Ministries that might be affected by their regulations before secondary legislation can come into force.[31] In 1989 Moshe Shachal, a long-time Labor politician, was the Minister of Energy. His job put him in the position of patron for the Oil Refineries and the Electric Company, both government corporations. They told him that the standards would be too tough for them to meet and would cost the government millions. The fact that Shachal lived in Haifa did not seem to faze him, perhaps because his villa was on the other side of the mountain from the industrial facilities. The Energy Minister formally opposed the regulations and prevented their publication.

Miloh did not hesitate to go after Haifa's megapolluters, but these ef-forts were also frustrated. On October 18, 1989, Miloh signed amend-ments to the existing personal decrees (stack emission limits) against both the Electric Company and the Oil Refineries.[32] They were to go into force in three months' time. The new directives forced the Oil Refineries to meet a specific sulfur dioxide emission standard at all times, never spew-ing more than 1.3 tons per hour into the atmosphere. If background air pollution levels went up, the refineries would have to halve their emission levels, to 0.6 tons per hour. Yet once again, the Energy Minister Shachal intervened and brought the issue to the Cabinet.

To avoid a coalitional crisis, a committee of four Ministers was ap-pointed to consider the matter. As the precarious unity government re-quired symmetry in all matters, the committee included two Likud and two Labor Ministers. The political balance once again called into question the assumption that the environment was always a left-wing or liberal issue. Within the committee, the right-wing politicians represented Green

interests, and the leftists backed the industrial polluters. They quickly reached a standoff.[33] So Miloh and Shachal were charged with finding an arbitrator to resolve the technical disagreements. They settled on Professor Haim Harari, a brilliant physicist and President of the Weizmann Institute.

Harari may have been a physics genius, but he was not an experienced environmental regulator. When his report was submitted in February 1990, it failed to make anyone happy.[34] Harari reduced the sulfur dioxide criterion from 780 to 500 micrograms per cubic meter but left it a “statis-tical standard” (allowing for a doubling of the standard 0.25 percent of the time). Sulfur levels in fuels were to be cut immediately to 2.5 percent, and during pollution episodes, 0.5 percent sulfur fuel was to be used.

Miloh took a “damn the torpedoes” approach and left his original per-sonal decrees in place. They were to come into force on March 18, 1990. It did him little good. Both companies immediately brought the issue before the Supreme Court, calling for cancellation of the emissions limits as ar-bitrary and capricious.[35] The Court granted a temporary injunction until it could rule on the matter.

By the time of the Court's judgment, however, Miloh had one foot out the door. With new prestigious Cabinet portfolios opening up, Miloh quickly forgot about how essential an Environmental Ministry was. Miloh was offered the Minister of Police position, and did not think twice before accepting it. Later, he would tell stories about a visit to England in his new capacity. His Ministerial colleagues in London heard of his decision with incredulity. In England the Interior and Environment Ministry is a far finer feather in a political cap than Police Chief. But the political calculus in Israel was different. Looking back, Miloh claims that he reached the de-cision because after two years of internecine squabbling to keep his Ministry running, he was just psychologically worn out.[36]

In 1990 an attempt by Labor Party chief Shimon Peres to reshuffle coalitional loyalties and unseat Prime Minister Shamir failed. Labor was kicked out of the coalition, and a Likud-led coalition survived with a nar-row parliamentary majority. The government was left with a small, poorly funded Environmental Ministry that no one had really wanted in the first place. By default, Prime Minister Yitzhak Shamir assumed the portfolio and held it until Yitzhak Rabin's Labor victory in July 1992. Fulfilling a debt to the National Religious Party, he eventually appointed Yigael Bibi, a good-natured former mayor from Tiberias, as Deputy Minister. Bibi had excellent intentions but lacked initiative and, unfortunately, did not sit around the Cabinet table (being only a Deputy Minister). He left Marinov

as Director General to keep the place running. In political terms, the Ministry of the Environment had become an orphan.

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