Enviro minister refuses to concede on coal imports

Minister of State for Environmental Affairs Laila Iskandar adamantly refused to give the green light to coal imports while speaking at a conference on Monday.

Iskandar, who has been a virulent critic of the cement industry’s fierce push for coal, said she was “insistent on protecting the health of Egyptians,” reported the state-owned Middle East News Agency (MENA).

“The ongoing debate right now around using coal in the cement industry cannot be considered a struggle but … an issue related to Egyptians’ health, especially the poor who, for the past 30 years, have not had access to medical care for diseases resulting from environmental pollution,” Iskandar said.

“The situation cannot bear the additional negative environmental and economic impacts of coal,” she stressed.

Earlier this month, conflicting statements from officials made it seem like the government had made a final decision to open the door for coal imports. 

At the time, Iskandar told Mada Masr that Egypt was working towards finding a new energy mix for industry that would include renewable sources, energy conservation and heat recovery.

Environmentalists have waged a passionate campaign against coal for months, but cement industry players have recently been acting like it’s a done deal. There are reports that several factories are already preparing coal storage facilities.  

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