Pipeline security bill in State Assembly

In response to the recent terror plot to blow up a fuel pipeline connecting Queens airports, one local politician wants to stop would-be terrorists from getting detailed images of their targets and to give the state the authority to raise security around the pipeline.
“We were fortunate to dodge a bullet at JFK, but we should not wait for disaster to strike before taking action,” said Assemblymember Michael Gianaris.
Most recently, Gianaris and State Senator Dean Skelos from Long Island introduced legislation, drafted in consultation with Deputy Secretary for Public Safety Michael Balboni, which would give the New York State Office of Homeland Security power to increase security around pipelines to airports and to allow the state to force additional measures if deemed necessary. As of Monday, June 18, the bill was up for full vote in the Assembly.
Gianaris, who is optimistic that both the Assembly and Senate will pass the bills by Monday, June 25, said that the original proposal was specific to jet fuel pipelines, but the bill was later amended to include all gas pipelines, including natural gas lines operated by KeySpan.
If passed, the new bill would call for the State’s Homeland Security office to conduct annual reviews of security precautions surrounding pipelines.
“The bottom line is that if anyone of these companies is doing a sufficient job of security, then this [bill] will have no impact on them,” Gianaris said.
Currently, the pipelines providing jet fuel to JFK and LaGuardia Airports are privately owned by Buckeye Partners, L.P., which operates about 2,000 miles of pipeline in 16 states. The stretch of pipes that connects Linden, NJ with JFK is about 40 miles long.
On Monday, June 18, Stephen R. Milbourne, a spokesperson for Buckeye, said that the company would welcome suggestions in regards to security precautions.
“We are certainly very much interested in security. We have been actively reviewing all of our systems after the incident on 9/11, as have all of the other pipeline companies,” Milbourne said, later adding, “We are very careful pipeline operators. We cooperated fully with Homeland Security with respect to the incident at JFK … I think that we’ve taken all prudent measures to ensure security. We are not at all going to resist a state’s interest in reviewing security.”
Gianaris said that similar setups are successfully in place at power plants and chemical storage facilities.
When asked if officials knew yet how much it would cost to implement the proposed legislation, Gianaris said, “in the context with what the office [of Homeland Security] spends and its mission to protect against terror, it’s not very costly.”
Following the June 2 arrest of several men involved with the JFK terror plot, Gianaris also asked that images of potential “terrorist targets” be obscured on the website Google Earth. One of the alleged JFK plotters advised his co-conspirators to use the satellite-imaging site to discover the layout of the southern Queens airport, according to a portion of the complaint which was obtained and divulged by www.thesmokinggun.com and posted on their site.
Over the last two years, Gianaris said he has written three letters to Google, warning them of what he believes are security risks associated with the Google Earth program. In one letter from August 19, 2005, Gianaris wrote, “satellite images offer detailed aerial views of sensitive locations that could provide terrorists with a virtual blueprint of potential targets [such as] power plants, airports, transportation hubs, stadiums and landmark buildings.”
At a recent press conference, held on the steps of Google’s Manhattan office, Gianaris said that the federal government should work with the website to determine which locations should be blurred and to distort spots like airports, chemical storage plants and military bases from the site.
In response, Google released a statement to the media, saying that the search engine “paid close attention to concerns that Google Earth creates new security risks.”
“Anyone who flies above or drives by a piece of property can obtain similar information. Google takes security concerns very seriously, and is always willing to discuss them with public agencies and officials,” the statement read.

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