Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Rockaways/Jamaica Bay Natural Gas Pipeline Proposal

A proposed natural gas pipeline in the Rockaways could bring cleaner, cheaper energy to New York City. The project — a conduit running from the Atlantic Ocean, under the Rockaways and Jamaica Bay, and then into southeast Brooklyn would save customers money, eases dependence on foreign oil and is cleaner than other fossil fuels. Brooklyn hasn’t seen a new delivery point in 50 years. National Grid, the utility that delivers gas to Brooklyn, says that as the need for natural gas grows, the system must be expanded.

Until environmental-impact studies are done, though — especially on the pipeline’s effect on the ocean side of the Rockaway peninsula, where the plan calls for more invasive digging than on the bay side — many environmentalists are withholding support.  Supporters say that the construction would generate 300 jobs and that the finished station would bring the city $8 million annually in property taxes.

The $265 million project, which would take about a year to complete, consists of three pieces: a three-mile connector, built by the Williams Companies, between the existing Transco pipeline in the Atlantic Ocean and the Rockaways; a one-and-a-half-mile line starting in the Rockaways and passing under Jamaica Bay and Gateway National Recreation Area land to Floyd Bennett Field, the decommissioned airport that is part of Gateway; and a metering station built in an unused hangar at Floyd Bennett Field.

The Bloomberg administration, which calls for expanding the use of natural gas in its PlaNYC 2030 initiative, encouraged Representatives Gregory W. Meeks of Queens and Michael Grimm of Staten Island to jointly sponsor a federal bill, passed in February, that authorized the use of national parkland for the project.

The pipeline would be laid using a relatively noninvasive method involving a horizontal directional drill, which drills a small hole, bores underground and then gradually widens the hole. This would avoid digging up Rockaway beaches or Jamaica Bay. But 2.23 miles of pipeline in the ocean will be laid by traditional methods, requiring extensive digging.

Two community boards, No. 14 in Queens and No. 18 in Brooklyn, have also raised objections to the project. For the Brooklyn board, the deal breaker was the proposal to build the meter and regulator station at Floyd Bennett Field.  (NYT, 9/4/2012)

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