It’s My Turn
Last Saturday, motorists approaching the Gil Hodges Bridge saw a work crew building a high-pressure gas pipeline on one side of Flatbush Avenue. On the other side was a group of protesters holding signs warning of the pipeline’s dangers. The protest was organized by Occupy the Pipeline and the Coalition Against the Rockaway Pipeline (CARP).
Energy companies Williams Transco and National Grid are building the Rockaway Lateral pipeline to carry fracked gas from an already-existing offshore pipeline, under Jamaica Bay, Jacob Riis beach, and Rockaway Inlet, into Floyd Bennett Field, and up Flatbush Avenue.
CARP says pipelines don’t have a good track record. There were 80 explosions and fires from gas pipelines in the U.S. in 2012 alone. Just last month 13 workers were injured in a Williams Transco compressor station explosion in New Jersey.
Transco is also building a gas metering and regulating station inside one of the landmarked hangars in Floyd Bennett Field. CARP points out that metering stations can explode when they are flooded. The hangar is 16 feet above sea level; the storm surge from Hurricane Sandy reached 14 feet. Scientists warn that storms in the near future will likely be bigger.
The energy companies claim natural gas is a clean fuel. But scientists say that hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, the process by which we now obtain most of our natural gas, results in more greenhouse gas emissions than coal. Gas has extremely high methane emissions. Methane is a particularly potent greenhouse gas 72 times worse than carbon dioxide over a 20-year period.
CARP says this is unnecessary. It points to a recent peer-reviewed study of New York’s energy needs to back up its claim that the state could convert to 100% renewable energy in 20 years.
The Gateway National Recreation Area originally banned industrial use of its land. It required an act of Congress to get around this. The bill was sponsored by Representative Michael Grimm. Last year Grimm was criticized by government watchdog groups for accepting large campaign donations from Williams Transco and National Grid.
Rockaway residents will be alarmed to learn that Liberty Natural Gas LLC has now applied to open a deepwater LNG (liquefied natural gas) port just off Jones Beach. Because of the current glut of fracked gas in the U.S., energy companies want to export LNG to Europe and Asia, where gas fetches much higher prices. Energy experts say this could triple domestic gas prices.
Longtime Rockaway resident Joan Flynn, like many of her neighbors, has spent the last seven months rebuilding from Sandy. "This pipeline and the proposed LNG port will make the next superstorm that much worse," says Flynn. "These projects are a real threat to me and everyone else in the area."