Natural gas pipeline coming to Floyd Bennett Field

December 5, 2012 Denise Romano
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The pipeline is coming!

On Thursday, November 29, President Barack Obama signed the New York City Natural Gas Enhancement Act into law, making the construction of a new natural gas pipeline in the city a reality.

The pipeline will pass underneath Jacob Riis Park and Jamaica Bay to a new meter and regulator station at Floyd Bennett Field, which is part of the Gateway National Recreation Area.

The planned route will avoid residential, commercial and environmentally sensitive areas, according to the language in the law, which authorizes the Secretary of the Interior to permit the Transcontinental Gas Pipeline Company to construct, operate and maintain a natural gas pipeline and related facilities in Gateway, which is part of the National Park System.

The construction and operation of the pipeline will create up to 300 local jobs, generate about $265 million in revenue, $8 million in annual local property taxes and aim to bring clean energy to the city.

In addition, the hangars at Floyd Bennett Field will be restored to historical standards at no cost to the government. The project will be a joint effort between the private sector and all levels of government, without any additional federal spending.

According to the bill, the current pipeline that serves this area of Brooklyn and Queens was built 40 to 60 years ago and is no longer able to meet demands. This new pipeline will be built off of the existing Williams pipeline that currently brings natural gas from New Jersey to Long Island.

“Given the destruction of Hurricane Sandy, this law could not come at a more critical time for New York City. This pipeline will help us build a stable, clean-energy future for New Yorkers and will ensure the reliability of the city’s future energy needs,” said Mayor Michael Bloomberg.

Congressmember Michael Grimm was one of the sponsors of the bill.

“In the aftermath of Sandy, New York City is in desperate need of revenue and jobs, which is why I am thrilled that my legislation was signed into law today,” said Grimm. “The NYC Natural Gas Supply Enhancement Act is the perfect example of government supporting private sector job growth here in New York City – without any federal spending – while bringing clean, affordable energy to our residents and businesses. At a time when many in New York City have suffered such great loss, this is welcomed news as we seek to rebuild our local economy and our communities.”

Nonetheless, not all of New York’s elected representatives are in favor of the new pipeline. Congressmember Yvette Clarke said, ““People from every part of Brooklyn – from Prospect Heights to Gerritsen Beach to Marine Park – have very valid and serious concerns about the potentially harmful effects of this pipeline on the environment. In the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy, we must establish that this pipeline will not put the families of Brooklyn in harm’s way.”

Those who live and work around Floyd Bennett Field also have mixed feelings with the decision.

“I wish they could have done it in a different way but the geography seems to lend itself to the way the engineers have planned it,” commented Assemblymember Alan Maisel, whose district encompasses Floyd Bennett Field and its surrounding neighborhoods. “The bottom line is New York City needs a gas supply. Within four to five years, we will have an inadequate supply. The Barclays Center is using natural gas. Where is it going to come from?”

Saul Needle, chair of Community Board 18, said that he has heard testimony over the past few months from National Grid, residents and organizations that were opposed to the pipeline, as well as those who supported it.

“Unfortunately, the federal government signed off and it’s coming,” he said. “All we can do is monitor the situation and hope that the promises made by National Grid can be met.”

The pipeline project was included in the PlaNYC2030 report and is supported by the National Parks Service, the Regional Plan Association and the City of New York.

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