Israel: Victory over Fracking in the Valley of Elah

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The fight to keep shale oil mining out of Israel has won a huge victory. After four years of stubborn struggle on the part of many residents of the shale oil rich area, environmental activists and a broad coalition of social organizations opposed to the fracking project, a significant victory was won by the Jerusalem District Planning and Construction Committee.

Against all odds, the majority of the committee members voted against greenlighting drilling in Shfela basin in south-central Israel. The only member who voted in favor of the project was the Energy and Water Resources Ministry’s representative. It is hard to imagine the fight is over. In all probability, Israel Energy Initiatives, seeking drilling permits, will appeal through other channels.

IEI, a local subsidiary of the U.S. company Genie Energy based in New Jersey, exists precisely to engage in fracking. The company’s conduct has angered much of Israel’s civil society. Beyond the problematic nature of extracting more fossil fuel at this time, the heads of Genie Energy contributed funds to Prime Minister Netanyahu’s reelection, and the chair of IEI is a former Israeli energy minister who in recent years took every measure and pulled every one of his many strings to obtain the necessary permits. Similar attempts to extract shale oil have been made elsewhere in the world and failed for a variety of reasons, including civil opposition.

The specific process that would have been used here – called in-situ retorting – involves heating the ground to hundreds of degrees in order to melt the otherwise solid shale to release the oil fumes. Similar to other forms of fracking, the process entails huge environmental and public health risks as well as the constructing of a large network of drilling points and access roads that would have destroyed the natural beauty of the Elah Valley.


Sources:

The Jerusalem Post
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Erin Gallagher is a multimedia artist, translator and writer for Revolution News.