Jamaica Bay Pipeline Moves Forward As Feds Issue Favorable Report; Public Hearings To Be Held This Week
The controversial natural gas pipeline, proposed to run underneath the Rockaways, through Jamaica Bay, and into Floyd Bennett Field National Park, has been plodding along the approval process for several months, with the latest news being the issuance of an apparently favorable draft statement by the federal government.
The Rockaway Wave reported last week on the draft environmental impact statement (EIS) for the Rockaway Delivery Lateral Project, an offshoot of Williams’ Transcontinental Gas Pipeline (Transco):
In its draft EIS, [the Federal Energy Regulatory Committee (FERC)] gave a favorable report for Transco and came to a conclusion that the environmental impact wouldn’t be so bad. The “construction and operation of the Projects would result in limited adverse environmental impacts that would mostly occur during construction,” the EIS said. Overall it says that the limited adverse impacts “would be reduced to less-than-significant levels with the implementation of Transco’s proposed mitigation and the additional measures recommended in the draft EIS.”
Critics, though, remain unswayed, saying that the agency has been too lenient in its review of the research, which was provided by Williams, and say more information should be required:
While Williams is pleased with the report, environmentalists are not satisfied. Dan Mundy, president of the Jamaica Bay Ecowatchers says the “report downplays the significance of the environmental impacts.” Mundy explained concerns over the fact that Transco hasn’t stated exactly what fluids will be involved with the project, which is significant as they will likely wind up in the water and may affect marine life. He also says that the company hasn’t released a modeling report which would show where sediments would go when the company trenches the ocean to install the pipeline. Mundy explains that sediment could impact an important artificial reef off the coast of Rockaway. Transco has been asked to release the sediment report for several months.
“The EIS report, as it’s done right now, is downplaying that significant impact and we’re concerned by that,” Mundy said. “It doesn’t include critical data.” He went on to say that the project should be put on hold. If it does go through and causes the mentioned environmental impacts, Mundy hopes the company considers restoring the areas that are impacted.
FERC didn’t give it all a free pass, though. The agency is recommending additional mitigation measures to reduce impacts on wildlife, habitat, and the historic character of the Floyd Bennett Field hangars that will be used in the project. The agency is proposing the requirement of 27 site-specific mitigation measures if the project goes forward.
The draft report can be found on the FERC website.
The agency is holding two public hearings to hear concerns about the project. The first will be held Tuesday, October 22, at 7:00 p.m. at the Knights of Columbus Rockaway Council 267 (333 Beach 90th Street, Rockaway Beach). The second will be held Wednesday, October 23, at 7:00 p.m. at Aviator Sports & Events Center in Floyd Bennett Field (3159 Flatbush Avenue).
Additionally, comments can be made electronically through the eComment or eFiling features of the website under “Documents and Filings.” When writing a comment, refer to docket number CP13-36-000 for the Rockaway Project. Written comments can also be sent to Kimberly D. Bose, Secretary, Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, 888 First Street NE, Room 1A, Washington, DC 20426.