Straight Through the Rockaways: Oversight of New Pipelines Is Split
By Sarah Crean, Gotham Gazette, October 15, 2012
NEW YORK — A plan to construct a new chain of natural gas pipelines from the Atlantic Ocean off the Rockaways through Jamaica Bay to the city is fueling anxiety from residents and some lawmakers because of its complexity and its potential impact on the surrounding community and coastal habitat.
The pipeline project is being championed by the mayor’s office, which says it is critical for meeting the demands of the energy-hungry metropolis, and National Grid, whose customers in Brooklyn and Queens will largely benefit from the increased supply that the project will bring.
Much of the project takes place in the 26,000-acre Gateway National Recreation Area. A new pipeline will extend from an existing gas line two-and-a-half miles off the Rockaway coast and run underneath Jacob Riis Park toward Jamaica Bay. Two pipelines will then run underneath the Bay, connecting to a proposed gas metering station to be housed in a historically significant hangar at Floyd Bennett Field. A separate pipeline will run from the meter station to an existing gas main on Flatbush Avenue in Brooklyn.
In terms of public review, the project has been split in two. Construction of the the coastal pipeline and meter station is being managed by Oklahoma-based Williams Companies. This section of the project is under federal jurisdiction and is subject to a full environmental review and public comment period.
National Grid is managing construction of the pipelines underneath Jamaica Bay, and along Flatbush Avenue. This section of the project is under the city’s jurisdiction. An assessment of potential environmental impacts associated with the project determined that there was no need for a full review. The determination also eliminated the requirement for a public comment period. [read more…]
On Tuesday, October 9, 2012, four members of CARP delivered petitions to Senator Schumer’s New York office. We met with Nick Martin, director of intergovernmental affairs, for an hour and discussed our concerns about the Rockaway Lateral pipeline project. These concerns are detailed in the letter that we delivered with the petitions.
We were accompanied to the meeting by an enthusiastic crowd of anti-fracking activists who had participated in an earlier event at Governor Cuomo’s office. Despite the rain, many stayed outside Senator Schumer’s office while Jonathan Fluck read the letter aloud.
At the meeting, Nick Martin argued that monies raised from the Williams leasehold would be available for much-needed repairs and services in Gateway. Gay Snyder, a gardener at Floyd Bennett Field, quickly responded that this was a totally unacceptable “Faustian bargain”: these repairs and services would come at the expense of gardeners, campers, veterans, and other visitors to Floyd Bennett Field. We pointed out that if government subsidies to the bloated, profit-rich oil and gas industry were cut, there would be plenty of public dollars available to keep our parks in the public trust.
Mr. Martin made the “clean gas” argument, citing the need to convert from coal and dirty heating oil, which contributed to high levels of asthma in city inhabitants. We pointed to the equally acceptable possibility of converting to #2 oil or biofuel derived from vegetable oils provided by the city’s restaurants. We also explained why shale gas was anything but clean, particularly when it threatened to bring radon directly into people’s kitchens.
The meeting ended on a cordial note. Mr. Martin stated that he had met with other groups from Queens and Brooklyn, who were also concerned about safety and the environment, and would continue to do so. And we promised to redouble our efforts to stop the Rockaway Lateral from being built. We have already collected over 500 signatures on our petition to President Obama calling for a veto of HR 2606/SA 2869. If you haven’t signed the petition, please do so now.
See “A New Weapon in the Fight Against Fracking” by Maria Rodale. Scroll down the page to What Can You Do? Take the time to send a letter to the Delaware River Basin Commission. Then sign CARP’s petition against the Rockaway Lateral Pipeline Project in our oldest urban national park.
A few excerpts:
Pipelines are known to emit methane.…And methane is the second largest contributor to climate change; it’s 21 times more powerful than carbon dioxide in warming the Earth.
Every pipeline brings with it a cut across the landscape. Virgin forests, residential communities, pristine waterways, and productive wetlands all must give way when a pipeline comes through….
Streams are “open-cut” to lay pipes across. Wetlands are drained and become lined with grass so they can no longer sustain the quantity and quality of life they once did. And that is if the pipeline company does a good job.
To move gas through a pipeline requires compressors, so communities are burdened with loud polluting compressors spaced as closely as every 40 to 100 miles, emitting a variety of air pollutants and lots of loud noise.…
The gas drilling industry is already building and pursuing facilities that will take as much as 20 percent of the U.S. supply of natural gas to foreign countries….
The Coalition Against the Rockaway Pipeline (CARP) is outraged that both houses of Congress have now quietly approved legislation to permit a natural-gas pipeline and a metering-and-regulation facility to be built in Gateway National Recreation Area in Brooklyn and Queens. HR 2606, which alters a 1972 law that has long protected the federal park from any uses other than recreation or conservation, was passed by the U.S. Senate on Sept. 21 without adequate public review. The alienation of a piece of Gateway, historic hangars in Floyd Bennett Field for industrial use, has never been properly addressed by legislators or the National Park Service, and the public has been consistently left out of the democratic and decision-making process.
In less than two months, CARP has collected 5000 signatures against this legislation, the greatest bulk from beach goers, families, and park users who were both unaware and unsupportive of this use of the park. Nine million people use Gateway National Recreation Area, one of America’s most used and oldest urban national parks in one of the densest urban environments in the country.
CARP will continue to fight this misuse of Floyd Bennett Field, which features historic aircraft hangars, heavily used recreation facilities, hiking trails, camping, and one of New York State’s oldest and largest community gardens and the Jamaica Bay Unit, home to popular beach and waterfront areas and the only wildlife refuge accessible by subway and bus. We will appeal to President Obama, whose Great Outdoors initiative promotes connecting Americans with the outdoors and partnering with local stakeholders to best gauge the needs of the community. We will ask Obama to veto this bill because it does not represent a government that is transparent, collaborative and participatory.