Thursday, October 15, 2020

Brooklyn Community Members Shut Down Construction of National Grid’s Widely Opposed Fracked Gas Pipeline And demand permanent halt of fossil fuel expansion in North Brooklyn and rejection of egregious rate hike #nonorthbrooklynfracking #nonorthbklynpipeline


ACTIVISTS SHUT DOWN FRACKED GAS PIPELINE. #nonorthbrooklynfracking #nonorthbrooklynpipeline
— in 

Williamsburg, NY -  Early on Thursday morning, North Brooklyn community members locked down on to the North Brook Pipeline, halting construction. National Grid has been building the controversial pipeline through predominantly Black, Brown and working class neighborhoods despite an opaque planning process and widespread community opposition all along the construction route.


“It’s important now to take action because this pipeline is almost done and no one has taken any actions to stop it, not our elected officials, the mayor, not the governor of New York and if they’re not gonna stop it we will because this is our homes, it’s our families that are going to be directly affected by this really toxic fracked gas pipeline and will be highly explosive. It’s going under public schools, under daycares, under small businesses and under our homes so if we don’t protect them, who will?” Pati Rodriguez with Mi Casa Resiste and Frack Outta BK, who is currently locked down to the pipeline.


For months, National Grid has been disrupting Brooklynites lives with major traffic obstructions, noisy, night-and day construction and charging public housing residents with parking tickets. Speaking to residents and small business owners living and working near the pipeline construction, many assumed there was necessary maintenance work being done, which might justify the disturbance. People were shocked to hear that far from “necessary”, this major infrastructure project was only spurred by National Grid’s greed.


If completed this pipeline would carry gas that has been fracked in Pennsylvania through Brownsville, Bed-Stuy, Bushwick, Williamsburg and Greenpoint; all for National Grid’s future profit. Fracking has been banned in New York State since 2015 due to the scientific consensus of its danger to groundwater and negative associations to health and environmental outcomes. Skirting this important regulation by fracking outside of New York, then transporting this dangerous fossil fuel through high density Black and Brown neighborhoods is outrageous and unacceptable.


But National Grid is not content to let New Yorkers pay for the fracked gas with just their health and safety, but also intends to make them pay for it with their wallets. National Grid has proposed to pay for the pipeline, by raising monthly bills of downstate customers in Brooklyn, Queens, Staten Island and Long Island. National Grid has requested $185 million to finish the pipeline as part of their larger rate hike request before the Public Service Commission which was originally filed in April 2019 but has dragged on due to National Grid’s widely condemned moratorium and the covid health pandemic.


“As a party to the rate case in which a rate hike for the North Brooklyn Pipeline seeks to be approved, I am witnessing a state regulatory system that is failing to act in the interest of the people. I am witnessing a regulatory system that prefers to perpetuate the destructive, racist corporate utility model than to hold itself accountable to the demands of the people for whom it exists to protect/serve. I do not consent to paying raised rates for a project that jeopardizes my health and the health of my community while perpetuating the horrific legacy of environmental racism in the name of corporate profit.” said Benny Woodard with the No North Brooklyn Pipeline Coalition who is also locked down to the pipeline.


The rate case is now being hashed out in confidential settlement negotiations which are practically inaccessible for the community members who will be most impacted. Meanwhile National Grid has sped forward with construction despite not yet having received rate recovery approval for any work done in 2020, and willfully ignored the massive community and ratepayer outcry against the project. Over 12,000 public comments condemning the project and National Grid’s proposed rate hike have been filed on the public record.


National Grid is almost complete with phases 1-4 of the pipeline in Brownsville, Bed-Stuy, Bushwick and Williamsburg and plan to have fracked gas running through that portion by November. New York State has questioned the need for phase 5 of the pipeline in Greenpoint which would connect the pipeline to National Grid’s massive fracked gas storage depot on Newton Creek. The company is also proposing to raise rates to invest hundreds of millions of dollars to expand and extend the life of that facility.


The entire pipeline route is through communities that have borne the brunt of environmental pollution for decades. The Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act requires new fossil fuel infrastructure to not only do an assessment of greenhouse gas emissions of the project but do an assessment of community demographics and co-pollutants of the area in order to protect environmental justice neighborhoods.


"Corporations, like National Grid, do not believe in our people, or empower our communities,” said Gabriel Jamison. “They exploit us, and call us a sacrifice zone. That is the mindset that enables them to build something toxic in our community. Fracked gas pipelines are associated with respiratory problems, air and water pollution, and problems during pregnancy. This doesn’t help Brownsville, this hurts us."


Brownsville residents have been explicit about the racial injustice inherent to National Grid’s plan and hundreds marched against the pipeline there recently. Brownsville, a community whose residents are 99% Black & people of color, already bears more than their fair share of pollutants harming public health.


Community members along the pipeline route are also concerned about the potential for a leak or explosion. An analysis done by Fractracker found that 153,000 people live in the evacuation zone of the pipeline, as well as 81 day care facilities, 63 schools, and 9 health care centers. The shutdown of construction is currently happening right outside PS 250.


In rate case testimony, National Grid has said more of their gas supply is fracked gas coming from the Marcellus Shale. The Marcellus Shale is the most radioactive shale play in the nation and National Grid has refused to answer community concerns about the potential for radioactive buildup in the pipeline. At a public hearing during the height of the covid pandemic in New York City, National Grid president John Bruckner said he wouldn’t ‘debate the merits of radon’ when asked about it by a retired firefighter concerned about cancer. 

Photo by Monica Hunken



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