With 5,000 Petitions In Hand, Jamaica Bay Gas Pipeline Opponents Urge Senator Schumer To Kill Proposal

The Coalition Against the Rockaway Pipeline (CARP) delivered petitions with 5,000 signatures to Senator Charles Schumer’s Manhattan office Tuesday as members of the environmental group push for a presidential veto of the project.

Although the House and the Senate passed the bill authorizing a gas pipeline to run through the Gateway National Recreation Area, CARP members don’t plan to give up.

“It is too late to the stop the bill from being passed. It’s not too late to show opposition to the project,” said Jonathan Fluck, CARP’s spokesperson.

The proposed Jamaica Bay pipeline would connect an existing natural gas pipeline three miles offshore with Southern Brooklyn. The pipeline would tunnel under Jacob Riis Park, cross Jamaica Bay and surface at Floyd Bennett Field. Williams Company, which is constructing the pipeline, plans to establish a metering station within a vacant hanger at the historic airfield.

The proposed gas pipeline crosses the protected Gateway National Recreation Area, the fourth most-visited park maintained by the National Park Service.

Between mid-July and mid-September the coalition collected about 3,000 signatures in person and another 2,000 online. Martha Cameron, who is one of the coalition’s coordinators, said nine out of 10 people approached signed the petition.

“I have been gathering signatures on petitions for years for various causes,” said Cameron, 70. “I was blown away by how fast people were signing.”

While a delegation of CARP members handed the petition to one of Schumer’s aides, about 30 protestors demonstrated in the rain. They raised “Don’t Frack New York”-signs and chanted “No fracking, no pipeline.”

For Cameron the two issues can’t be separated.

“It’s like saying highways and cars are different things,” she said. “The pipeline isn’t going to be carrying chocolate milk. The only purpose for building the pipeline is to carry gas.”

Representatives for Schumer did not respond to a call seeking comment.

The proposed pipeline could open up a new line of revenue for Gateway, said Christopher Stockton, a spokesperson for the Williams Company. The project, he said, “will potentially result in millions of dollars in new income into the park, helping it to serve the public in new and exciting ways.”

The Williams Company argues that the project meets the city’s growing demand for natural gas. Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who favors the $265 million pipeline, has called it “critical to building a stable, clean-energy future.”

But CARP disagrees with his definition of clean energy.

“The money needs to go for infrastructure for renewable [energy]. That’s the way to help us through the climate crisis,” said Fluck, who also works for the Green Party.

— Dominik Wurnig