Thursday, November 29, 2012

HR2606 President signed


                                    Veto HR2606 Protect Your Parks Postcards to Obama

This week President Obama signed HR2606, the bill that does two things. 1. It gives the Secretary of the Interior the authorization to allow permits for a natural gas pipeline right of way under Jacob Riis beach in the Rockaways, Queens. 2. It also gives the Secretary of the Interior the power to allow a metering and regulating station, an indstrial facility, to be built in Floyd Bennett Field, which is a park that is part of the larger park, Gateway National Recreation Area. Now I know that there are plenty of NYC citizens who have signed petitions and written letters against this bill. I also know that too often in the news, the alienation of a part of this park and the introduction of this private industrial use of the park, the very large metering and regulating facility is completely left out.

Floyd Bennett field is currently the site of FEMA operations, a resource for neighborhoods impacted by Hurricane Sandy, but in its regular life, it is also a resource. It is a park used by kayakers, birders, cyclists, campers, high school football teams, families and the largest single group of communty gardeners in New York City. The current proposed site for this most likely precedent setting metering and regulating station is historic hangars a few hundred feet from that community garden at the Gateway of this park that Senator Schumer once said could be the crown jewel of NYC parks. There is a lot to consider when following the story of the rockcaway lateral pipeline and its accompanying project the Brooklyn Queens Interconnect. But one of the important things is the story of how this alienation of part of this park and the introduction of industrial infrastructure that will be wholly outside the park's purpose came to be. And it did not come to be so through a democratic process that included citizens and park users in any way.

 
Just one of the hundreds of postcards Joe collected from park users and NYC citizens against HR2606.  Want to know how many people testified in support of the bill? It's three.

More posts on Rockaway Pipeline through Gateway National Recreation Area, HR2606 and the metering and regulating station in the park at Floyd Bennett Field here

Monday, November 19, 2012

Veto HR2606, Their Words, Not Mine


                                       Veto HR2606 Protect Your Parks Postcards to Obama

It's too bad that President Obama is a busy man and won't likely ever see the Veto HR2606 postcards that Joe has been collecting from Gateway National Recreation Area users and New York City citizens, but perhaps his mail staff will get to enjoy some thouh. The fun thing about letters written in people's own words is the variety, the many flavors of expression. From the aghast but succinct, "The idea of natural gas facilities in Gateway National Recreation Area boggles the mind. It goes against everything the National Park stands for.", to the supercasual "Because it's the right thing to do man." There are invitations: "I'm asking you to veto this because it serves a huge purpose to a lot of people. It's great relaxation and wonderful for the children. If you took a moment and visited, I'm sure you would enjoy it." And forceful demands. " Dear Mr. President, I attended the G.K Youth Conference at the national park. I, as a student leader, demand you to be the leader that your people want you to be by protecting our green spaces and vetoing this Act."

A cookie cutter formula would never be as revealing. I would love to put them all up somewhere, the pages and pagies of copies Joe made for someone to see all together. All that different handwriting together in a collage that I'm sure would cover a wall or two.
 
 
Just one of the hundreds of postcards Joe collected from park users and NYC citizens against HR2606.  Want to know how many people testified in support of the bill? It's three.


More posts on Rockaway Pipeline through Gateway National Recreation Area, HR2606 and the metering and regulating station in the park at Floyd Bennett Field here

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Veto HR2606 letter postcards to Obama (this week)


                                   Veto HR2606 Protect Your Parks Postcards to Obama

As HR2606 gets ready to arrive on President Obama's desk, some new postcards from park users and NYC citizens get ready to be mailed. In their own words:
1. "It's essential that you veto HR2606, NYC Natural Gas Supply Enhancement Act. Save our wildlife."
2. "Please veto HR2606, the NYC Natural Gas Supply Enhancement Act. It is important, not only for the millions of residents of NYC, but for the country. We must protect the national parks from corporate interests."
3. "Please don't destroy what little natural beauty and public wild areas we have left in NY! Please help our souls which need nourishment more than gas."
4. "I'm writing to request that you please veto HR2606. I don't believe, and Ikm sure many will agree, that a natural gas pipeline should be placed under Gateway National Recreation Area. This land is meant to be preserved for future generations and must be protected."
5."I am writing to ask you to veto HR2606, NYC Natural Gas Enhancement Act. I love Riis beach. It is for the public not gas companies."
6. "Veto HR2606. We need to protect our national parks for people and animals."
7. "President Obama please veto HR2606 and protect our natonal parks. We need real answers to climate change."
8."Our nation and city faces enough environmental problems as is. We certainly don't need to chance our few green spaces. Please veto HR2606."
9. "HR 2606 is a terrrible idea because national parks are for animals, nature and people NOT corporations."

I could go on because literally hundreds have been written. But ten will do for now. In their own words and voices, though it's quite clear to me that no one in power is listening.

 
Just one of the hundreds of postcards Joe collected from park users and NYC citizens against HR2606.  Want to know how many people testified in support of the bill? It's three.


More posts on Rockaway Pipeline through Gateway National Recreation Area, HR2606 and the metering and regulating station in the park at Floyd Bennett Field here

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

HR2606 again in the House this Week


 Recently someone described HR2606's upcoming journey this week back to the House floor for concurrence with how it was amended by the Senate as a "formality". The term couldn't be more apt. In fact it perfectly describes this bill and its path through both houses of congress quite well. The bill is simply a formality to be dispensed with, the park just an impediment in the path of a pipeline project, and it has been from the beginning. The truth of when this deal was done is summed up quite neatly in one sentence of Williams Transco's cultural resource report on this pipeline project: "Transco has been working with the NPS on this Project since 2008, and in September 2010 Transco and NPS began discussions about the potential lease of Hangars 1 and 2 for use as an M&R Facility."  Right smack dab at the time the powers that be were calling the public to participate in Blue Panel Ribbon Meetings on the future of Floyd Bennett Field, quietly the deal was made that will finance the repair of historic hangars by turning them into a shell that will cover the new natural gas infrastructure slated for the park. The park gets some money from the lease and maybe the public gets a little token of something they asked for or some vision they had at those meetings.

And so I shouldn't be surprised that this bill is scheduled to reach the House floor once again under a supsension of the rules, just as it did this past February. (Bills passed under suspension of the rules are typically non-controversial I just learned, like the naming of post offices, and as such require little debate. A pipeline through the beach and some of the richest marine habitat around and the sale of cultural resources supposedly protected by the National Park Service for private industrial use sounds on par to the naming a post office, right? What's to debate? What's a park for anyway? )

It's like Stephanie Toothman said in her testimony in support of this bill. The pipeline and the metering station are a "boon" for the park and the thousands of park users who have signed petitions or written postcards against it, well, apparently we're just not smart enough to spot a good thing when it comes our way. Suspend the rules? Suspend your disbelief sounds more like it.

 
Just one of the hundreds of postcards Joe collected from park users and NYC citizens against HR2606.  Want to know how many people testified in support of the bill? It's three.


More posts on Rockaway Pipeline through Gateway National Recreation Area, HR2606 and the metering and regulating station in the park at Floyd Bennett Field here

Monday, November 12, 2012

Almost

                                                                 At Floyd Bennett Field

The weather, so balmy the last few days, spoke to another season but not so the length of the day. It almost felt like spring, but the sun still sank early and its been dark now for hours.                          

Saturday, November 10, 2012

On Accounting for HR2606 Passage



Some day not too far in the future NPS may have to tackle the all important question of interpretation or signage for the new metering and regulating station proposed for historic hangers at Floyd Bennett Field. Perhaps tours can be given recounting the history of Barren Island, filling for the airport and the passage of the important legislation that will bring the natural gas industry into the park. Upon HR2606 passing in the wee hours on Sept 22nd, Boss Bloomberg offered a press release thanking some people: "I want to thank Senator Schumer who sponsored this important legislation as well as Senators Bingaman and Murkowski who helped make passage possible. I would also like to acknowledge the important role of the National Park Service in this process." It's interesting that he thanked Senator Schumer for "sponsoring" the legislation as there is no public record of the Senator's role in the passing of this bill. The senator was never on record as having a position either in favor or against the bill and HR2606 is a bill with very few "sponsors". But since the mayor thanked him we can assume he had a behind the scenes role in the bill's passing. On the other hand, the National Park Service is on record twice testifying in support of this bill that authorizes a natural gas pipeline right of way through the beach and alienation of a chunk of parkland at Floyd Bennett Field to Williams Transco and National Grid for their metering and regulating facility. And while the official spin is that the bill will only allow NPS to negotiate the terms of a lease to these companies, it's interesting to know that one of the arguments in support of the bill made by legislators in the House was that the National Park Service had already come to an agreement about leasing those hangars to the natural gas companies. So what's left to negotiate? The dollar amount?
 

More posts on Rockaway Pipeline through Gateway National Recreation Area, HR2606 and the metering and regulating station in the park at Floyd Bennett Field here

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

In Remembrance of a Ride Past, Tour for the Shore

Tour for the Shore, Clean Ocean Action's Bike/Paddle Journey from Cape May to Montauk
 
This summer past, Joe and I participated in one short little leg of a pretty awesome bike/paddle trek that Clean Ocean Action went on in order to promote awareness of their Clean Ocean Zone iniative. Powered by pedal and paddle, human legs and arms and either into the wind or being pushed on by it, the Clean Ocean team travelled all the way from Cape May in New Jersey to Montauk in New York, the tip of Long Island. That's fierce.



Standup Paddle Event in NYC, the morning's meetup place
 
It's hard not to think about that beautiful day in the sun (the talk of native plants and stormwater capture among many other thing) and the path that the Tour For the Shore travelled in the wake of Hurricane Sandy's destruction of so many beautiful places that were passed through on their epic journey. (Joe and I did a one day ride with them to talk to the group about our own fight against HR 2606 and to hear about the citizen bill that Clean Ocean would like to see introduced in order to project the entire NY/NJ Bight from harmful practices, whether dumping, industrial or otherwise.)
 
It'd be nice to think that by the time next August rolls around and if another tour is planned that the shore and the communities all along it in New Jersey and here in New York are well on their way to recovery. A lot can happen in a year, but some of the damage in these locations is so staggering that I hope I'm not being too optimistic.
 

Joe, me  Sean from Clean Ocean Action and Kathleen from American Littoral at 69th Street fishing pier, Bayridge


More posts on Rockaway Pipeline through Gateway National Recreation Area, HR2606 and the metering and regulating station in the park at Floyd Bennett Field here

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Recovering

 After a week spent indoors and one illness after another, a late afternoon recovery walk to Prospect Park brought me by a most sweet-smelling Camellia on Eastern Parkway, grass catching the last light of the day in front of the Brooklyn Central library and a massive tree stump in the park that looked like it had a story or two to tell.

The air was cold but the sun on my face felt so much like a warm welcome that it seemed liked it had to be trying to comfort me. I don't formally practice a faith, but you wouldn't be far off if you said I was something of a sun worshipper.


Friday, November 2, 2012

A Man and His Bobcat

 
I think it was over 20 trees knocked down or dangerously uprooted by the storm at the community garden. But with gardeners armed with some serious tools, the hard work of cleaning up is already well underway.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Private Use and National Parks,Community Gardens vs Natural Gas Companies?

Native bumblee feeding on Cercis Canadensis at Floyd Bennett Community Garden, Gateway National Recreation Area

Twice now, the community garden at Floyd Bennett Field has been described to me as a private use of a public space when someone up on high has been questioned about HR2606 and placing industrial gas metering and regulating facilities in historic hangars at Floyd Bennett Field. The first time was by Schumer's office and the second time by the National Parks Conservation Association this afternoon. This is interesting. They are referring to a report here which seems to mostly be about uses that dominate desirable areas, with high fees and not the community garden at Floyd Bennett Field which has actually made something out of nothing at the field and provides a measurable benefit to many people from various neighborhoods all across Brooklyn and Queens.

It's interesting that both Schumers office and NPCA want to make the community garden out to be the bad guy here. NPCA even said there were other city parks we could be moved to. I find that infuriating as the community garden I belong to is as good an example of President Obama's Great Outdoor Iniative as any and it has been so for much longer than that iniative's existance. It is maintained by the people who belong to the garden, an everychanging roster of 400 plus families and it is beneficial to not only the people who use it but the wildlife that visit, including the local pollinators who know it as habitat.

NPCA's attack on the community garden is unforgiveable considering their inability to come out against HR2606 and new industrial use of the airfield despite more than one report they have either published or co-authored that calls for moving inappropriate uses out of the park. If they seriously think that community and recreational uses of the field like the garden, which are beneficial to people, the environment and wildlife are part of the problem and not part of the solution, they seem so very sadly out of touch with reality. 

Who knew that according to Schumer and NPCA, a community use of the park could be seen as more inappropriate than the proposed industrial facilities by private natural gas companies, which they are in support of? Man, have they got it all upside down or what.

 Native bee feeding on Verbena bonariensis in my garden plot at Floyd Bennett Field