Saturday, December 15, 2012

The Upside Down Logic of Williams Transco, Politicians & the National Park Service

Photo of Williams Transco proposed natural gas pipeline (Rockaway Lateral Project) routes and preferred an alternative metering and regulating station sites circa 2009.

 As someone who has followed the progress of how historic hangars IN Floyd Bennett Field came to be the preferred site for a currently proposed metering and regulating station, it's kind of interesting to follow up upside down logic of the thinking of the natural gas companies, politicians and the National Park Service as offered by Williams Transco in their FERC paperwork. A quick look at the photo above shows that neither the preferred metering and regulating station site nor any suggested alternative sites were actually IN Floyd Bennett Field.


So the upside down logic we are considering here is how a location INSIDE the park instead of OUTSIDE the park became "the least intrusive to the Gateway National Recreation Area" or as Dr. Stephanie Toothman of the National Park Service said in her testimony before the Senate Subcommittee on National Parks in March 2012 not just not intrusive but actually "a boon for the park".  

Here for example is one of the arguments Williams Transco made in March of 2012: (sections in bold my own emphasis):  "Based on the evaluation criteria used to date and a thorough comparison of the factors that would effect possible metering and regulating facility alternatives, the preferred M&R Facility location presented is the least environmentally damaging and the least intrusive to the GNRA and the surrounding communities. A number of different factors were important in determining the preferred pipeline route. These include:

The Preferred M&R Facility is on a parcel currently owned by the National Park Service,which has expressed a willingness to lease space for the facility.

The Preferred M&R Facility would be within a rehabilitated hangar complex that would
 match the visual aesthetics of Floyd Bennett Field."

In fairness I should say that Williams also pointed out the fact that the hangars are already on a paved surface and that the facility was far away from neighboring communities and in that sentence probably the truest thing is the paved surface part. But in regards to a park and a paved surface, one could say the same about any urban park with a basketball court or other paved surface and to make the case that placing a metering and regulating facility in a park is least intrusive on a community you would have to of course completely ignore the fact that parks are actually used by people who live in communities. 

Does it matter that the metering and regulating station will be attached to not one but two different pipelines, consist of industrial equipment for private natural gas companies and that there is little doubt that it will be a new stationary source of emissions, including the possibility of volatile organic compounds and the small particulate matter that contributes to respitory ailments like asthma? It doesn't seem to. Does it matter that the hangars are not in an out of the way location but in a part of the park actively used by people for recreational purposes? It doesn't seem to. Does it matter that a metering and regulating station of the nature and size that the companies want to build is by definition both industrial and a potential hazard? No. What seems to matter most is that the natural gas facilities will not be seen as the station will be hidden inside existing structures in the park that the National Park Service was looking to lease anyway because it lacked the finances to upkeep the structures properly itself.

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