Friday, January 18, 2013

A Year's Distraction

Often, I wish that I had discovered gardening earlier in my life.

Before I started gardening, I wouldn't have been able to look at these pictures and tell the season by the bloom, know what plant is a native and which are weeds, nor much about what kind of pollinator I was looking at, never mind botanic names. This isn't a staggering amount of knowledge to have acquired, but I don't think that I wish I'd started gardening earlier just because I'd know that much more now about plants or pollinators. Keeping score about how much or little you know is something I think of as reserved for school.  

Last year, I came to know a lot more than I ever would have imagined I'd come to know about natural gas, whether about extraction or infrastructure siting (and I know I'm not alone there, you really could not escape this topic in New York state right now if you tried), and obviously there's some value in that, as there is in learning anything. Unlike the process of learning about the hoverfly, wasp and plants pictured here around the community garden and Floyd Bennett Field, this was not actually fun or pretty at all. I'd choose hunting for hours for the genus of a hoverfly over poring through FERC files or tracking a bill's path through Congress any old day.

Sunday, January 13, 2013

From The FERC Files (CP13-36)

Well, it took some looking and if you've never poked around in FERC's elibrary, you might not appreciate what a wild goosechase, needle in a haystack search it was to find correspondance from NPS staff on this project that I can agree with regarding the adaptive reuse of these historic hangars in Floyd Bennett Field for a 60,000 square foot metering and regulating station:

"the new use is not only "contemporary" but the hangers are expected to perform a "technical and sophisticated service within the confines of the historic structure." They will not see traditional reuse functions which is uncharacterestic of NPS historic sites. By contrast, they are not intended for visitation to aid interpretation and resource appreciation and to enhance the visitation experience. Some would contend that the new use is incompatible with the preservation interests and DOI cultural resource management policy (NPS 28) because of detrimental risks and changes created by the new use. Their value has been reduced to their exterior appearance.

In reality, the hangers convert to industrial use. They become a fence to shield views of the new use and an enclosure to protect the new functions. The rehabilitiation has nothing to do with aviation, or human/daily usage by staff or the the public for the next century."

Man that sounds very familiar to me. There is a lot said in those few sentences. Reminds me of a phrase I read on a postcard to the president. (I didn't write that one either.) There is spin and a lot of PR on what this project means for Gateway NRA and then there is reality.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Public Law 112-197


 Seeing as the public actually had very little if anything even at all to do with the creation or passing of this Public Law 112-197, beyond writing letters (in the hundreds) and signing petitions (in the thousands in a very short time frame) against it that fell on deaf ears, even the label "public" law seems disingenous and  offensive.

This is an industry law and it gives an industry that already has tremendous legal rights under the Natural Gas Act, which include eminent domain, the right to operate in a place where previously it did not.

The National Parks Conservation Association has referred to Gateway National Recreation Area as the "poster child for underfunding of national parks". The mayor and the secretary of the interior have said that they want this park to stand as a new model for the future of urban parks. The public ought to have more of a role in the future of this poster child park because it seems kind of obvious to me from the passing of Public Law 112-197 that the people who are supposed to be funding and protecting this park are failing at the task.

Williams Transco just filed formally with the FERC for their Certificate of Public Convenience and Necessity (new number CP13-36) and though they have been making out that they are only early in the process of siting this project, they are asking that this certificate be approved by this fall. I notice that "public" is in that title too.

Saturday, January 5, 2013

Down the Aisle (the metering and regulating facility and the park)

 For the better part of last year I followed the news about a natural gas pipeline project that would place a large natural gas metering and regulating facility in the hangars that are down the aisle from where I garden in a park (Floyd Bennett Field). I can't count the amount of time I've spent poring through documents that trace this project's path back to 2009. But, back in 2009 those hangars in Floyd Bennett Field were not the preferred choice for a metering and regulating facility that would support a new pipeline lateral through Gateway National Recreation Area and the surrounding area, nor were they even an alternative site. The reason for this is pretty simple. Natural gas facilities like this metering and regulating facility are not the kind of things that are typically placed in parks, not just parks protected by the National Park Service, but most parks.

In 2009, when searching for a preferred and alternative site for this large facility, Williams used these words: "A key goal of the evaluation process was to identify a potential site that. in being developed as a meter and regulating station, would retain the land use regime of the immediate area."

Across from the hangars up until this Ocober there used to be a gazebo. It was built by a community of gardeners. The last time I was at Floyd Bennett Field, the gazebo lay flattened as it had been since Hurricane Sandy and I thought about the beautiful border around it that Bob had planted and tended over the years. I would defy anybody that says Williams had achieved that "key goal" in matching the site for that metering and regulating facility from a "land use regime" perspective.

This is a park last I checked. The land use regime they were going for is "developed industrial use" (their words, not mine.)

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Come January

Come January and the community garden at Floyd Bennett Field mostly belongs to the birds.

Sometimes the snow.

And what lingers from last season's blooms.