NEW YORK (Sept. 16, 2011) — Hydraulic fracturing and in-situ retorting for oil in Israel should be banned in Israel pending further research into the environmental effects of the relatively new fossil-fuel extraction techniques, according to a new report issued by Israel’s Keren Kayemet L’Yisrael / Jewish National Fund (KKL-JNF) at the initiation of the Green Zionist Alliance.
The report and its recommendations, which were drafted and approved unanimously by a KKL-JNF committee convened and chaired by Green Zionist Alliance representative Dr. Orr Karassin, constitutes the official policy of KKL-JNF according to the organization’s bylaws. The committee was formed by Karassin following a Green Zionist Alliance report in early May on hydraulic fracturing — AKA hydrofracking, fracking or frac'ing — and in-situ retorting of oil shale in Israel’s Elah Valley, where David fought Goliath.
“It’s one of the most important open spaces left in all of Israel,” said Karassin.
KKL-JNF, the single largest non-government landholder in Israel, has now joined the GZA, the Mateh Yehuda Regional Council and four organizations that have challenged oil-shale extraction in Israel’s Supreme Court — GZA sister-organization Israel Union for Environmental Defense, the Society for the Protection of Nature in Israel, the environmental-organization umbrella Life and Environment, and the grassroots Citizens' Committee to Save Adullam — in officially opposing extraction of oil shale in Israel. The court’s decision is still pending.
Before the oil-shale extraction pilot project begins, KKL-JNF insists that the oil companies wishing to exploit the land first answer a dozen research questions through laboratory work conducted by an independent committee.
“You can’t learn on the ground because then it will be too late,” with damage already done to the environment, Karassin said, citing the precautionary principle. “Answer these questions in a lab.”
The report lists the following research questions among those that need to be answered by the committee before fracking and in-situ retorting should be allowed to proceed in Israel:
- Will cracking soil layers pollute fresh-water aquifers?
- How much water will be used as part of the process to produce a single barrel of shale oil?
- What will happen if either the fracking or in-situ retorting lead to spontaneous combustion of oil or natural gas?
- What is the expected growth in the carbon footprint of Israel due to oil-shale production?
- What effect will oil-shale extraction have on Israel’s ability to fulfill its international commitments to reduce greenhouse-gas emissions?
- Will heating the earth and removing oil from the shale potentially cause land to collapse?
- What will be the effect of oil-shale extraction on local agriculture?
- How will oil-shale extraction affect the area’s environment and landscape?
KKL-JNF says that the independent committee should be funded by the oil companies and should include scientists and representatives of KKL-JNF, environmental groups and Israel’s Ministry of the Environment.
A full copy of the 34-page KKL-JNF report in Hebrew can be read here. An English translation will be available soon.
The Green Zionist Alliance is working to prevent fracking in America as well, joining with other green organizations and environmentalists to form a new network — Jews Against Hydrofracking. The network’s first publication, “Living Waters: Jewish Sources on the Natural World for Reflection and Study During the High Holidays,” can be downloaded here.