Monday, February 17, 2020

“Don’t Wait for This Pipeline to Burst!” No North Brooklyn Fracked gas pipeline, “We say no!

"Community members from across North Brooklyn rallied at Manhattan Avenue and Moore Street near the construction site of National Grid’s controversial Metropolitan Reliability Infrastructure (MRI) project shutting down construction for the day on February 15, 2020. Community calls for immediate, permanent halt of construction and on Mayor De Blasio, and Governor Cuomo to oppose project. (Photo and cption by Erik McGregor) — with Benjamin Heim Shepard at Bushwick, Brooklyn."

What happens if a methane gas explosion blows by  their practice?

For the last  couple of weeks, people all over  Brooklyn have been organizing to stop the North Brooklyn Pipeline.

Kim and Lee from Sane Energy Project explain:
“Last week, Sane Energy Project hosted our fourth info session with over 130 of our neighbors and nearly two dozen elected officials and their staff in North Brooklyn about the plans National Grid and the fracking industry has for Brooklyn, since National Grid couldn't be bothered to inform us themselves. We informed our community about Grid's request to use New Yorkers' dollars for:
• $185million rate increase for a new fracked gas transmission pipeline
• $77million rate increase for fracked gas vaporizers at the Greenpoint LNG facility
• $31.5million over the next 4 years to add “portable LNG capabilities at the Greenpoint site that will allow LNG delivered via truck to on-system injection points.”
• We also found that National Grid is looking to expand this fracked gas infrastructure in order to truck LNG from Brooklyn to points in Long Island and Massachusetts.
• $74million for more fracked gas infrastructure in Long Island.

The next day, Mayor DeBlasio signed an Executive Order to halt all Fossil Fuel Infrastructure in New York City, but left out this multi-million dollar fracked gas expansion project! He needs to know the time to start is NOW! Not 2040.

Residents are fired up to demand Mayor De Blasio and Governor Cuomo tell National Grid: No fracked gas pipeline, no rate hikes in our community. Renewable Energy NOW!


Brooklyn's Community Board 1 furthered this demand on Tuesday night by p passing a resolution opposing the National Grid North Brooklyn Pipeline.”


Some of the best organizers I know were in attendance at these workshops.
Squatters and environmentalists, members of Extinction Rebellion and Rise and Resist, Earth  Strike and San Energy Project.

I've gone to several.

Early in February, Lee gave an overview:

We have eleven years, she explained, referring the UN report on climate.

We banned fracking  in  New York State in 2014.

Yet New York is a market for a lot of gas from Pennsylvania.

In May we stopped the Williams Pipeline.
The New York Times reported:

New York Rejects Keystone-Like Pipeline in Fierce Battle Over the State’s Energy Future

Regulators denied an application for a $1 billion natural gas pipeline that environmentalists said would set back the fight against climate change.

Williams is trying to create a pipeline through North Brooklyn, to maintain system pressure.

Phase four is under construction.
Phase five is not approved yet.

Activists hope to prevent that from happening.

National Grid’s goal is to complete the Bushwick phase of the pipeline by the fall of 2020 and get finding approval for Williamsburg and Greenpoint by March of 2020.  Our goal is to stop this project and push Governor Cuomo to mandate our Public Service Commission to invest our rate-payer dollars in renewable energy and efficiency that is affordable and accessible to all  New Yorkers.

National Grid is incentivized to build infrastructure.
The Public Service Commission is making a case for infrastructure.

Its  up to us to stop  them.

Direct action can stop this pipeline, says Monica, beginning her presentation.

Shut down North Brooklyn Pipeline, she follows suggesting we make sure the action had a clear goal and disruptive capacity.

Seneca Lake, they stopped a proposed  pipeline.

Williamsburg has been through this before, stopping incinerator and power plants.
The whole neighborhood has been the center a century and a half of toxic dumplings, oil spills on Newtown Creek, bearing the brunt of industrial capitalism’s penchant for waste and pollution.

Non-violent action can be a way to point to something  better, something safer; a point of intervention is a physical point of production, destruction, consumption, decision.

Activists are focused on engaging the community, being as inclusive as possible, supporting a diversity of tactics, rejecting authoritarian means in favor more joyful forms of direct action.

Last Planning Meeting

At our pre action meeting, we continue the conversation.

National Grid wants to  store  and truck gases out of Greenpoint, using bomb trucks, carrying highly explosive methane gases through the residential  neighborhoods of Greenpoint, spaces where kids play, where my daughter practices with her roller derby team, and people work.  These bomb trucks are virtual pipelines and disasters waiting to happen.

And we’re the ones who get to pay for the cleanup. 
Greenpoint is still coping with the impacts of Exxon’s inaction in  the settlement for polluting  the Newtown Creek.   The massive spill has been a source of contamination in the Greenpoint community for decades.

That’s the problem. 
Companies come here.
And leave residents to clean up the mess. 
The immediate  impacts, the climate impacts are  countless.

We’re be left with the bill.
Rates will go up.
We’re gonna pay for it.
Cancer increases.
We get the aftershocks.

They are building  fast. 
They want to get  it in the ground. 
The Comptroller and Public Advocate are  against this.
But the city and  state decide.
They can say no to the bomb trucks.

We have to stop this. 
The people have to stop this. 
No one wants higher rates to create a pipeline.
The Community Board #1 voted no.
Opposition is increasing.

“It’s a neighborhood that  has 150 years of experience of coping with the adverse impacts of  environmental neglect,” says Kevin, a  local organizer who will MC Saturday.

We want people power.

We meet organizers at 8 AM. 

“The workers didn’t come to work today,” says Kim. 
Everyone applauds, declaring  victory for the day.
No action today.

Its so cold out the marching band can’t play.

The press conference at 930 will still go on.

We’ll still hold politicians accountable.

Its really up to de Blasio and Cuomo.

We’re  asking them to come out against rate hikes and half phase four.

“The community has hosted  pollution for 150 years,” says Kevin.
Long and short, this is dangerous and unnecessary.

“We won’t pay for your pipeline,” everyone chants as the rally begins.

“We say no! We say no!” we scream.

“We will, we will, stop you!”
 chanting to the tune of We Will Rock You.

It’s a global warming crime scene, says Kim.

“We’ve done it before, we’ll do it again,” Joe Lentol leads everyone,  pointing out the community’s history of beating back unwelcome incinerator and power plants.

“Brooklyn pipeline,  turn it down, leave the gas underground,” we holler, trying to stay warm.

“Don’t wait for the pipeline  to burst, National Grid is the worst!”

“1234 Kick Brooklyn pipeline out the door, 5678 – renewable power in New York state!”

“We won’t pay for your pipeline, no fracked gas on our dime!”

Speaker after speak talk about the need for a Green New Deal, a new way of building power in a sustainable fashion, rejecting fossil fuels.

2040  is now.  We have to get off fossil  fuels now, say activist after activist.

Look at  the kids on their parent’s shoulders, they are the ones that are going to have to deal with this, says one of the organizers.
Listening, I find myself becoming moved, thinking about what will become of our city,  our world if  we keep kicking the ball down the road as we are doing.
We only have ten years.
The time  to act  is now.
No Brooklyn pipeline.
Lets show the world how it is done.
Stop the North Brooklyn pipeline.

Activists from all over the city were there to support the North Brooklyn residents saying no to the pipeline.

Its so cold it hurts,  says Lee, imploring the crowd.
We say no! 

Wendy, of Green Map Systems, stood by me, holding the banner at the press conference:  
“I was there because of the danger posed by fracked gas pipelines. We need to increase efficiency and renewables, and to stop utility companies who have chosen to embrace the most extreme forms of energy. So called 'natural' gas is up to 200 times more powerful than Co2 as a greenhouse gas. It's time our government protect us, short and long term, from this existential threat. It's time our government stands up to protect us - short and long term - from this existential threat.

Mairi, a Brooklyn-based organizer with Extinction Rebellion, was there to join the direct action.
“I came out Saturday because this pipeline will destructively impact hundreds of thousands of lives on multiple levels. Economically, it will cause hardships and further gentrification because gas bills will rise. Pressurized fracked gas isn't stable and puts lives at risk at the installation sites in these communities. Furthermore, I find it pretty atrocious to put new pipelines in land that was stolen from native people and not acknowledge it. Then there's the extraction: I believe that all species lives are worthy of protecting and destroying land to frack this gas kills natural habitats that aren't ours to destroy. All this to say, I found that every angle of this is bad and so I really wanted to volunteer to get arrested Saturday. I believe that non violent direction action works, so having the opportunity to do direct (literally direct, not prefiguratively or symbolic get in the way of "business as usual" by say, stopping traffic) felt really meaningful and effective.

The workers didn’t come on Saturday.
Activists will be there when they return. 

Finishing the rally I went to catch the end of the Gotham Girls game down the street.
They should we free to skate without bombs trucks rolling down the road by them. 

Tell the world, no fracked gas pipelines in Brooklyn. 

Erik R. McGregor took the following photos from the rally. 

Erik R. McGregor caption and photos to the album: Community rally to stop North Brooklyn Pipeline — with Wendy Brawer and 5 others at Bushwick, BrooklynFebruary 15 at 8:24 PMEast Williamsburg, NY - Community members from across North Brooklyn rallied at Manhattan Avenue and Moore Street near the construction site of National Grid’s controversial Metropolitan Reliability Infrastructure (MRI) project shutting down construction for the day on February 15, 2020. Community calls for immediate, permanent halt of construction and on Mayor De Blasio, and Governor Cuomo to oppose project. The MRI project is a new 30inch high-pressure fracked gas transmission pipeline through Brooklyn destined for a National Grid depot on Newtown Creek, where the company also wants to expand its LNG facility and begin transporting LNG in and out by truck.
“We are standing together. East New York and Brownsville, Bushwick, Williamsburg and Greenpoint,” said Greenpoint resident Kevin LaCherra. “Every neighborhood in this city. Every community in this state. Join us. We’re gonna shut this down.”  The sheer possibility of encountering an enraged and engaged public was enough for National Grid to buckle and halt construction on Saturday. The community called on National Grid to permanently halt construction of the pipeline. They also called on Mayor de Blasio and Governor Cuomo to stand with the community and oppose National Grid’s proposed rate hike to pay for the projects. “While we have to pay for a brand new pipeline right now, it is the youth who will be paying for the pipeline for the rest of their lives, by sacrificing the possibility of a livable future in exchange for short term profit fueled by corporate greed,” said Maggie Berke with Sunrise NYC. “We know that a different future is possible, one rooted in renewable energy, a just transition and green jobs, and this is the future we deserve.” 
National Grid is asking for 185 million ratepayer dollars to finish construction of the pipeline in Bushwick and continue it into East Williamsburg and Greenpoint. They’re also asking for an additional 108.5 million ratepayer dollars to expand their Greenpoint LNG facility and begin transporting LNG in and out by truck through Brooklyn, Queens and the Bronx to Massachusetts and Long Island.
“If Mayor de Blasio and Governor Cuomo won’t be real climate leaders and stop this pipeline, the community will,” said Kim Fraczek, local Bushwick resident and director of Sane Energy Project. “This is just the beginning of community opposition to not only this pipeline, but all of National Grid and Con Ed’s fracked gas infrastructure expansions.”
“I was one of the many thousands of people National Grid used as pawns in their corporate manipulation campaign to extort the city into approving their massive infrastructure expansion,” said Sessa Tate with Democratic Socialists of America EcoSocialists. “This kind of thing would never happen if public utilities were publicly owned.”
At the end of the rally, community members stood in front of the empty construction site chanting “We say no”.
We saw today that the mere specter of the community’s collective action is enough to halt construction; today proved that the community’s tireless dedication to environmental preservation and justice will undoubtedly put a stop to National Grid’s destruction.


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