CONGRESSWOMAN ELISE STEFANIK
On Wednesday, November 14, 2012, the House is scheduled to concur in the Senate Amendment to H.R. 2606, the New York City Natural Gas Supply Enhancement Act, under suspension of the rules. The bill was introduced on July 21, 2011, by Rep. Michael Grimm (R-NY) and referred to the House Committee on Natural Resources. The House approved H.R. 2606 by voice vote on February 7, 2012.
H.R. 2606 would authorize the Secretary of the Interior to issue permits for the construction, operation, and maintenance of natural gas pipeline facilities within the Gateway National Recreation Area located in New York and New Jersey. In addition, the bill would authorize the Secretary to collect rent from leases of any National Park Service (NPS) land or buildings associated with the pipeline.
Under the legislation, permits issued for the natural gas pipeline facilities under this section shall be consistent with the laws and regulations generally applicable to utility rights-of-way within units of the National Park System. In addition, any permits issued under this section for the natural gas pipeline facilities shall be subject to such terms and conditions the Secretary deems appropriate. The Secretary would be required to charge a fee for any permits and permits would be issued for a term of 10 years.
Senate Amendment: While the House bill would provide that the permit term is ten years “subject to renewal with any changes to its terms and conditions mutually agreed upon,” the Senate amendment would provide that “the permit may be renewed at the discretion of the Secretary.”
The Senate amendment is also structured differently from the House bill but remains substantively the same as the House bill with the except for the renewal language.
The House bill specifically references the Williams FERC docket. The Senate modification references the Federal Regulatory Commission docket in a different section, and specifically names Transcontinental Gas Pipeline Company as the “permittee,” which the Senate amendment does not. According to the Committee, the additional language is not substantive but does make the bill appear different optically.
The allocation of both permit and lease revenue between NPS and the Treasury is the same in the Senate amendment as the House bill though the Senate language differs optically. The Senate amendment provides that the Secretary retains the portion of permit fees related to its costs just like the House bill. The Senate modification provides that lease proceeds be used at Gateway as it does in the House bill.
According to Committee Report 112-373, due to increased demand for natural gas in New York City, New York, additional pipeline capacity is needed. To remedy this problem, New York City is working to place a pipeline through Gateway National Recreation Area. H.R. 2606 provides the National Park Service (NPS) with the authority to approve a pipeline through its jurisdiction. As part of an agreement reached with NPS, in exchange for permitting the pipeline, the Williams Company will restore and maintain abandoned aircraft hangers in Floyd Bennett Field which is part of the Gateway National Recreation Area. One hanger will house the pipeline meter station and the others will be for park purposes.
According to CBO, any offsetting receipts from leasing NPS land or buildings associated with a pipeline in the Gateway National Recreation Area would total less than $150,000 a year. These receipts would be deposited in the U.S. Treasury as offsetting receipts and would go toward deficit reduction.