When is a new natural gas pipeline a good idea? When it updates aging equipment and brings cleaner air to the region it serves, according to bipartisan support for HR 2606, the New York City Natural Gas Supply Enhancement Act that passed the House of Representatives by voice vote on February 7.
The bill calls for the Secretary of the Interior to “authorize the construction, operation and maintenance of natural gas pipeline facilities … within Gateway National Recreation Area,” the most visited recreation area in the National Park Service system.
It also allows the Department of the Interior to lease buildings and other properties on Floyd Bennett Field “to house facilities associated with the project.”
The mention of a pipeline usually creates instant ire among environmentalists, but this time the project has significant local support, according to coverage in the Staten Island Real-Time News on silive.com. The new pipeline will replace the current system, which was built more than 50 years ago and does not have the capacity to meet the energy demands of Brooklyn and Queens.
“The three-mile natural gas line will enable National Grid to supply gas to consumers in Brooklyn from an existing bulk pipeline in the Atlantic Ocean that is operated by the Williams Companies,” New York City Deputy Mayor Caswell Holloway told silive.com. The project was one of many in NYC Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s PlaNYC2030 report, in which he outlined an agenda to meet New York City’s challenges by the year 2030,
Added Representative Michael Grimm (R-Staten Island/Brooklyn), who introduced the bill in the House: “It allows for the private sector to create local jobs, without any federal spending, while bringing clean, affordable energy to New York City’s residents and businesses.”
The project is expected to bring the city as much as $265 million in construction revenue, and another $8 million in property taxes.
“The Gateway natural gas pipeline bill will allow the expansion of an existing natural gas pipeline under Flatbush Avenue, and add a monitoring station to an already paved area in the park,” said Alexander Brash, northeast senior regional director of the National Parks Conservation Association, one of the leading advocacy organizations for the national parks. “In return, regional residents will get cheaper energy and cleaner air, advancing several of PlaNYC’s goals. In addition, the resulting lease fees will be used to restore the two remaining historic hangers at Floyd Bennett Field for the public’s use and enjoyment.”
A composite of several disparate properties around New York Harbor—the “gateway” waterway to New York City—Gateway NRA has struggled to bring neglected resources up to a level that conserves historic structures and restores natural areas. Other current projects at the park include an environmental cleanup at Great Kills Park, rehabilitation of the air terminal at Floyd Bennett Field, and development of a general management plan to determine the park’s direction for the next twenty years.