The Rockaway Lateral

FERC Docket Number: CP13-499-000  Status: In Operation

The Rockaway Lateral is a high-pressure, large-diameter gas pipeline, that runs across newly restored wetlands in Jamaica Bay, under Riis Park beach, Floyd Bennett Field, all the way to Avenue U, near the Kings Plaza shopping center in Brooklyn. On the map above it is the blue and red line running in a north/south direction. It branches off from an older undersea pipeline, the New York Lower Bay Lateral (the black line running west to east), that makes landfall in Long Beach, Long Island.

The project adds a metering station inside a vintage aviation hanger at Floyd Bennett Field (the red square on the map above). Williams agreed to restore the hanger, which the Parks Department had not previously been able to do, owing to budgetary constraints. The metering station drew the ire of intervenors on the docket due to its location in an area that experienced severe flooding during Hurricane Sandy, and because its emissions are released over one of the country’s largest community gardens and bird nesting areas. These emissions contribute to global warming and sea level rise, which are a threat to this area.

The pipeline is currently in service. Sane Energy Project filed multiple comments on the draft EIS (environmental impact statement) and worked with a local opposition group that is no longer active. A local community response to this project was hampered by its filing during the period when the area was literally still in the dark from Hurricane Sandy. By the time the area had recovered from storm damage, the construction of the pipeline was well under way. Mainstream media virtually ignored the project until it was nearly completed.

All the same problems with fracking and radon that apply to the Spectra pipeline also apply to the Rockaway Lateral–and more: grave risks to delicate wetlands, marine habitats, historic aviation hangars, as well as  from frequent brush fires. And the safety record of this pipeline builder (Williams-Transco) is abysmal.

Federal lawmakers bought into the false promise of cleaner skies via boiler conversions, ignoring the health risks from air pollution, water contamination and radon that come with the use of fracked gas. House bill HR2606, the New York City Natural Gas Supply Enhancement Act, was sponsored by Michael Grimm, the convicted former Congressman, and signed into law by President Obama. It opened up federal parkland in Rockaway, and set a precedent for industrial use of national parks for pipelines and other gas or oil infrastructure.

(Page last updated June 2015)