Mr. MEEKS. Mr. Speaker, thank you for the opportunity to speak in support of the ``New York City Natural Gas Supply Enhancement Act'' (H.R. 2606). This bipartisan legislation will authorize the Secretary of Interior to allow the construction and operation of natural gas pipeline facilities in the New York portion of the Gateway National Recreation Area.
My southeastern Queens district includes part of the Gateway National Recreation Area near Kennedy Airport, including the Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge. I have long supported efforts to improve the environment in and around Gateway as well as to enhance Gateway's facilities.
I join with Congressman GRIMM and Congressman TURNER in thanking Resources Chairman HASTINGS, Ranking Member MARKEY, Subcommittee Chair BISHOP and Ranking Member GRIJALVA and their staffs for their help in moving our bill through their committee to the floor.
I also thank the National Park Service for its work to strengthen the legislation as well as for its efforts over the years to improve Gateway and its historic Floyd Bennett Field. Also deserving our appreciation are Governor Cuomo, New York Deputy Secretary for Energy Congdon, Mayor Bloomberg, Deputy Mayor Holloway, the Floyd Bennett Field Blue Ribbon Panel, the National Parks Conservation Association, the Regional Plan Association, and countless other individuals and organizations in New York for their work and collaboration in support of Gateway.
The natural gas pipeline system serving Queens, Brooklyn and Staten Island is 40 to 60 years old. While adequate for the demand at the time, the system no longer has the capacity for the approximately 5.2 million residents of these three boroughs. Simply put, we need new natural gas infrastructure to meet our existing and growing needs, and H.R. 2606 is necessary to get us there.
Robert Yaro, the President of the Regional Plan Association, summed it up in August 22, 2011 letter to me in support of our bill. He stated that H.R. 2606 will expand the supply of natural gas in New York City, help support economic development, improve public health by increasing air quality, and provide needed financial support for restoration of one of Floyd Bennett Field's historically significant airplane hangars.
Mr. Speaker, H.R. 2606 is a win all around.