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