National Grid’s plan to build a new natural gas pipeline underneath various neighborhoods in Northern Brooklyn has drawn the ire of locals since its inception.
The energy provider’s fight became much harder this week, however, when Senator Chuck Schumer announced his own opposition to the project. He is the highest-ranking politician to oppose the project, which has already faced opposition from a bevy of local representatives.
“The facts are clear, this pipeline will undermine New York’s climate goals while pumping carbon-based fuel through communities already face high pollution,” Schumer said during a press conference last week.
The North Brooklyn Pipeline project would install a gas pipeline underneath parts of Brownsville, Greenpoint, Bedford-Stuyvesant, and Williamsburg. Detractors argue that the pipeline would pollute the ground and water of multiple low-income communities of color.
“When they had to build a highway, when they had to build a pipeline, they didn’t go to the communities where there was power and wealth,” Schumer added. “They went through poor communities, communities of color. That meant more asthma, more particulates in the lungs, it meant more poison in the air. That’s got to stop.”
Just last month, Schumer also spoke up in opposition to a proposed new fracked gas plant in Astoria. Similar to the North Brooklyn Pipeline, the project has been criticized for potentially adding more pollutants into the air of a neighborhood that has already been dubbed “Asthma Alley.”
In addition to the environmental impact of the North Brooklyn Pipeline, local residents are concerned by the increased costs in their monthly bills to pay for it. National Grid hsaid its agreement with the state Department of Public Service would raise their customers’ bills by an average of $5.56 per month in 2021 and then by $4.89 per month in 2022.
The $100 or more price hike added fuels to the flames of an already adamant anti-pipeline movement in North Brooklyn.
Since July 1, over 200 Greenpointers have joined a strike to protest the controversial North Brooklyn Pipeline project by National Grid. The strike asks that residents withhold $66 from their monthly gas bill, and has found support from Assemblywoman Emily Gallagher and State Senator Jabari Brisport.
Lee Ziesche, community engagement coordinator for the grassroots organization Sane Energy Project, offered the following comment about the ongoing strike efforts:
“The state and the city really haven’t stood up to National Grid, it’s really only ever been the community,” Ziesche said. “After almost a year of confidential settlement negotiations that didn’t really involve community members, the plan that National Grid and the state came up with and filed in May just really ignored all the community’s concerns.”
Despite the continued opposition, National Grid defends the pipeline project.
“National Grid shares Senator Schumer’s commitment to transitioning to a sustainable energy future, which we all know will not happen overnight,” a National Grid spokesperson said. “In the meantime, we have an obligation to provide energy to our two million downstate customers until there is a viable, affordable alternative for heating.”