Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Following The Path of a Pipeline (Take Three)

Turkey vulture on rooftop at Floyd Bennett Field
Turkey Buzzard at Floyd Bennett Field, March last year

I don't take the most direct route from my home to the community garden at Floyd Bennett field and that's because I usually go by bicycle. And one of the things you quickly learn when travelling by bicycle is that it's often wise to add on mileage in order to take the safest most scenic route. So I'm pretty comfortable with the idea of detouring and I know that's there's usually more than one or two ways to get to where you need to be and that the most obvious route isn't always the best choice. Perhaps that's a useful metaphor to use when following the path of a new pipeline. Perhaps there's another route to take to cleaner energy than the one that involves transporting gas that's being extracted in a manner that's increasingly being called into question and challenged and maybe there's a better route for a new pipeline and metering and regulation station than through the part of Brooklyn and Queens that contains the National Gateway Recreational Area.

For instance, in an early draft report that Williams was required to file with FERC demonstrating the need for this project they stated, "While solar energy has been identified as a viable form of renewable energy and initiatives such as ConEd’s Pilot Program indicate a push for its use, the inherent issues with constructing solar facilities in the New York City area (i.e. tall buildings requiring cranes to install parts) preclude this form of renewable energy from providing the energy needed to supply the demand area targeted by the Project.", but the demand for this project is Queens and Brooklyn not Manhattan. These are areas that include large tracts of mostly suburban areas and much smaller buildings than in Manhattan. It's perhaps arguable that solar energy both in private homes, and industrial sites in these areas is more likely to be feasible and attainable than in the more developed Manhattan.

As for the route, I'm not a birder, but any serious birder will tell you that Floyd Bennett Field and Jacob Riis beach are on the list of places to go to see birds in New York City. And I'm not an entomologist but I know that even the small patches of potentilla along the bikepath near Floyd Bennett provide habitat for pollinators that you probably don't see in abundance in other parts of the city. Floyd Bennett field is not a wildlife reserve like it's neighbor across the bay, but it is managed in a way that supports the many species of birds that use it on their migrations along the Atlantic flyway.

This particular part of New York City may be overlooked by a lot of New Yorkers, but that doesn't mean that it isn't important for all kinds of reasons. And some of its most important users cannot vote. Nearby Jamaica Bay and Breezy Point are designated Significant Coast Fish and Wildlife Areas and there's no short list of species they support. Not all of New York City's coastal resources are ranked in the same way. Some, like Brooklyn's Navy Yard, are in fact recommended for industrial use as Significant Maritime and Industrial areas.

Syrphid fly on Potentilla, bike path alongside Floyd Bennett Field

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