EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler Starts Tour in Israel
TEL AVIV (Nov. 17, 2019) – Today, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Andrew Wheeler became the first EPA Administrator since 2012 to visit Israel. He began his visit with bilateral meetings with the State of Israel and private partners. Administrator Wheeler saw firsthand the unique environmental issues Israel faces when it comes to water reuse and cleaning up contaminated sites. He will finish his time in Israel with a keynote address at the Water Technology and Environmental Control (WATEC) Conference where he will address America's commitment to clean water access globally.
"It is an honor to visit the Holy Land, and meet with many of its amazing people," said EPA Administrator Wheeler. "Getting a chance to see their unique environmental issues in person is important to our continued partnership achieving shared environmental successes."
Administrator Wheeler began his day visiting the Apollonia National Park with members of Israel’s Ministry of Environmental Protection (MoEP). The park overlooks the Nof Yam remediation site which was home to multiple former military sites that are being remediated to clean up contamination and converted into residential properties. EPA officials have been working with Israel’s MoEP in providing our latest best practices and technologies remediating formerly used defense sites to assist in cleaning up and reusing the Nof Yam site.
Administrator Wheeler paid tribute at the Yad Vashem World Holocaust Remembrance Museum. He toured the grounds and participated in the wreath laying ceremony in the Hall of Remembrance. He ignited the Eternal Flame, while placing a wreath in the crypt which contains the ashes of Holocaust victims brought to Israel.
EPA’s delegation was hosted by Israel’s Minister of Environmental Protection Ze'ev Elkin for a working lunch to discuss further opportunities for cooperation between the two countries. On the issue of water, Administrator Wheeler and Minister Elkin discussed shared efforts to reduce nutrient runoff and implementation EPA’s draft Water Reuse Plan with best practices and technologies. On cleaning up contaminated sites EPA committed to continuing sharing its best practices on soil remediation and highlighted the United States’ commitment to utilizing Opportunity Zones to enhance investment in lower income communities. Both delegations discussed best practices in responding to emergencies and communicating risk. Finally, Israel thanked EPA for its efforts to share information on its EnergyStar program and for hosting a workshop in September.
In another meeting with Minister Elkin, they discussed the Memorandum of Understanding between Israel and the U.S. signed last year to further collaboration on water technology. This was followed by a meeting with Israel Innovation Authority’s Chairman Dr. Ami Applebaum to highlight the best way innovative Israeli technologies can improve environmental outcomes globally and increase the collaboration between the Innovation Authority and EPA’s national laboratories.
Administrator Wheeler also met with Israel’s Foreign Affairs Minister Israel Katz to discuss bilateral relations and regional cooperation. Finally, Administrator Wheeler met with the Ministry of Energy and Director of the Israel Water Authority Yuval Steinitz where they discussed water infrastructure and quality issues, as well as the future of energy in both countries.