Washington passes gas plan: Senate approves pipeline for Floyd Bennett Field

Nervous gardeners: Green-thumbed locals Ed and Christine Bressel are worried that the proposed pipeline extension, scheduled to weave its way through Marine Park in late 2013, could put their precious garlic and tomato harvests in jeopardy.
Photo by Steve Solomonson

The U.S. Senate approved a plan to run a gas pipeline through Floyd Bennett Field this week — a move environmentalists say will sound the death knell for Brooklyn’s only national park.

Mayor Bloomberg lauded the Senate’s decision to pass the New York City Natural Gas Supply Enhancement Act, which he says will bring jobs to the city and provide residents with clean and consistent energy, yet some say the decision to run the Transco pipeline under the historic airfield will kill the fruits, vegetables, and plants members of the Floyd Bennett Gardener’s Association grow less than 300 feet from the proposed metering station where workers will be able to access the gas pipeline.

“The fix is in,” said Joe Nerone, a member of the Gardener’s Association. “Boss Bloomberg, Schumer, Gillibrand, and the entire Senate Energy Committee sold our national parks to corporate interests, for nothing but money.”

The Coalition Against the Rockaway Pipeline, a Facebook group consisting of environmentalists and members of the Gardeners Association said that the bill has, in part, undone legislation that has existed for decades protecting national parks from industrial uses.

“It alters a 1972 law, which has long protected federal parks from uses other than recreation and conservation,” the opposing group said in a statement.

This bill only affects the Gateway National Park, but there are fears among opponents that the bill might set a precedent, and that industry will find many new uses of national park territory.

The legislation will now return to the House — where it was sponsored by Rep. Michael Grimm (R–Bay Ridge) and Rep. Bob Turner (R–Sheepshead Bay) — in November, which will vote to approve, or disapprove revisions the Senate made.

Grimm said the Transco Pipeline Extension project is expected to generate an approximate $265 million in construction activity, almost 300 local construction jobs, and about $8 million in annual local property taxes.

“The metering station is basically a secure building, inside a building,” the legislator said.

Passing the Senate was the most substantial hurdle facing the pipeline extension project, although it’s the not last — the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission will have the final say when it concludes it’s study of the project later this year.

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