On the eve of April 4, 2023, the North Brooklyn Pipeline Alliance received official word by email from the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) informing us that National Grid formally withdrew its application for a permit for construction of two liquefied fracked gas (LNG) vaporizers at its Greenpoint facility, the apex of the route of the North Brooklyn pipeline.
After three years of fighting National Grid’s multiple-phase fracked gas transmission project in North Brooklyn, residents, and statewide supporters celebrate a historic environmental win over a giant multinational utility, National Grid, that gave up on a major part of its gas expansion plans in a quiet letter filed to the DEC on March 24, 2023.
The withdrawal follows the March 16, 2023, decision by state utility regulators, the Public Service Commission, to deny the project’s financing with ratepayers’ money after an independent assessment report revealed that the vaporizers were not needed.
The LNG expansion loomed over the community, particularly over Cooper Park Houses, located directly across from the facility. Residents already live atop the largest underground oil spill in the United States, and next to Newtown Creek, a federally-designated Superfund site.
“These vaporizers would have been installed a thousand yards from our community, where we live,” said Elisha “E.W.” Fye, Vice President of Cooper Park Residents Council. “We must start transitioning that 110 Acre National Grid facility near our homes to renewable energy and land restoration so we can breathe clean air.”
“This has been an excruciating and complicated three-year fight on the segmented North Brooklyn pipeline. And the fight is far from over. The community continues to fight phases 1-4, that National Grid built and profiteered from before anyone even knew about it,” said Margot Spindelman of No North Brooklyn Pipeline Alliance. “Now that we know how they game the system in utility rate cases, we will maintain a watchful eye that the company’s withdrawal of phase 5 — that would connect to the toxic depot where the vaporizers would have been constructed — will never return.”
“Because of the tenacity of community organizers who have tirelessly fought this fracked gas project for the past three years, National Grid sees the writing on the wall,” said Ruhan Nagra, Director of the Environmental Justice Clinic at the University of Utah Law School, who represented Sane Energy Project and Cooper Park Resident Council in a lawsuit challenging DEC’s finding that the LNG vaporizers would have “no significant environmental impact. “DEC’s finding flatly ignored multiple actual or threatened environmental harms to environmental justice communities near the National Grid site and was arbitrary, capricious, and contrary to law,” said Nagra. “DEC’s refusal to even examine the project’s potential environmental impacts on an already overburdened population was extremely concerning to us.”
“When the DEC originally stated they found no significant environmental impact, they ignored the fact that the new vaporizers would be sited in an Environmental Justice Area,” said William Vega, a resident plaintiff in the lawsuit against National Grid and the DEC. “Our community cannot accept the significant increased air emissions that exacerbate multiple risks to my family and neighbors’ health.”
“We won’t stop here,” said Aderinsola Babawale, Youth Mentor and Artist active with the NoNBKPipeline Alliance. “There’s more we need to champion including this win! There are still phases 1-4 of the pipeline going through Brownsville leading to the LNG facility in Greenpoint. This project was started unlawfully in 2017, and this shows us everything has a price, especially when it comes to companies like National Grid so it’s either paid to or indebted to something or someone,” said Babawale. “Now the cost of this toxic infrastructure puts a risk to my community’s health and it’s at our expense to the return of shareholders’ value, we need it removed & completely uprooted. They won’t care since they don’t have a stake in the community, which is why we must continue to step up as we make these decisions for our future and at present the health and well-being that are a priority in this fight. This is our vested interest, we do not need any deteriorating and depreciating infrastructure that wants to keep us trapped in the past of fossil fuels. This victory means renewing our vision for Public Power, as we move forward with integrity and a sense of responsibility to build better power structures that actually serve us!”
“These vaporizers would have been another blow to our community’s health, safety, and wallets,” says GiGi Nieson, a resident of Bedford Stuyvesant, a neighborhood that includes phase 2 of the Pipeline. “Every month I see my utility bills go up and up to pay for fossil fuel projects that directly harm my neighbors and myself. We will continue to fight phases 1-4 of the pipeline, and remain united to protect our neighbors from the harms of fracked gas in NY.”
“We know that fossil fuels poison the air we breathe inside and outside our homes, so it’s great to see both the DEC and the PSC push back against National Grid and reject its unnecessary requests to boost its bottom line and enrich its executives and shareholders” said Meagan Burton, Senior Attorney at Earthjustice. “National Grid’s LNG Vaporizers would have resulted in more premature deaths, respiratory illnesses, and neurological problems among our fellow New Yorkers. The PSC needs to continue its progress in stopping the expansion of unnecessary and poisonous fossil fuel infrastructure. The Governor and the Legislature should do its part to protect our communities by passing the All Electric Building Act and NY HEAT Act.”
“First, community members said these toxic gas vaporizers weren’t needed. Then, a statewide climate movement joined in. Then, the Public Service Commission agreed. And now, National Grid admits it too. Together, we showed that enough people power can defeat one of the wealthiest corporations in the world. Now it’s time to pass the NY HEAT Act, which will finally free us from the fracked gas system and let all New Yorkers move into the safe, healthy, and green future we deserve,” said Jessica Azulay, Executive Director of Alliance for a Green Economy.
Members of the Alliance are currently active in supporting FrackOuttaBKs work to halt Phases 1-4 of the North Brooklyn Pipeline, the PSC Proceeding to Implement the Utility Thermal Energy Network and Jobs Act, as well as supporting passage of the Build Public Renewables Act, the NY HEAT Act and the
All-Electric Buildings Act.