02/15/2011 23:15

Dedication ceremony attended by PM, MKs, Haifa governor; Netanyahu says Druse are justified in claims to their land.
Talkbacks (2)

A dedication ceremony was held Tuesday for a new segment of the national natural gas pipeline that now reaches an area that includes Haifa, Acre, and the surrounding kibbutzim and neighborhoods. The increased usage of natural gas is expected to cut pollution in the Haifa bay area by at least 75 percent by 2013, Israel Radio reported.

The natural gas will replace more heavily polluting diesel and and crude oil energy resources, and will be used by the Electric Company in Haifa, refineries, and other industrial factories in the area.

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The pipeline was not free of controversy. The project faced nearly two years of legislative battles between several Knesset MKs, government officials, and the local Druse residents due to the fact that the pipeline was to be laid on private Druse land in the Kishon River gap.

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu took responsibility for solving the Druse issue, saying that landowners who sought to protect their claims where the pipeline was laid were justified. He said his office is determined to reach an agreement with Druse residents.

MK Uzi Landau (Yisrael Beiteinu) stressed that for Israel’s natural gas security it was very important to establish a gas reception point in the north as well as the existing one in Ashkelon. Landau added that the goal now was to make the Ashkelon power station run on not only natural gas, but coal as well, in order to prepare for emergency situation.

Environmental Protection Minister Gilad Erdan said that, in light of the recently laid pipeline, there will be dramatic changes in air quality in the Haifa bay area and in the control and treatment of effluents flowing into the Kishon river, which suffers the reputation of containing cancerous waters.

Haifa governor Yona Yahav welcomed the move saying the air in Haifa will now be cleaner, responding to his claims that the area unfairly suffers a bad reputation in the media for poor air quality, despite the fact that Tel Aviv’s air pollution is worse.