The dramatic saga of the North Brooklyn Pipeline continued this past week with the filing of a lawsuit against National Grid, the energy provider overseeing the proposed project.
The lawsuit comes after two years of negotiations between National Grid and the state Department of Public Service, as well as regular protests against the project.
The North Brooklyn Pipeline project is a new gas pipeline underneath parts of Brownsville, Greenpoint, Bedford-Stuyvesant, and Williamsburg. Detractors argue that the pipeline would pollute the ground and water of multiple communities of color and low-income communities.
Despite the criticism, National Grid contests the new pipeline will allow for safer, more reliable, and more efficient gas supply in North Brooklyn.
The Cooper Park Resident Council (CPRC), which represents over 700 families in Williamsburg’s Cooper Park Houses, and the grassroots organization Sane Energy Project jointly filed the lawsuit.
“This is something that must be stopped and must be stopped immediately,” said CPRC vice president Elisha Fye. “I’ve been living in this community since 1953. We’re already impacted in this community with the oil spill that happened. A pandemic of asthma flooded this community, illnesses, deformities in pregnancies, not to mention the soil is still contaminated to this day.”
The suit alleges the city and state failed to undergo the State Environmental Quality Review (SEQR) process required for any project that relates to the use of liquefied natural gas.
The lawsuit has already resulted in the issue of a temporary restraining order against National Grid, halting construction for the time being.
The University Network for Human Rights and the Pace Environmental clinic are representing the plaintiffs.
The lawsuit is just the latest in a long line of actions to attempt to halt the project. Beginning July 1, over 200 Greenpointers agreed to withhold $66 from their monthly gas bill as form or protest to the project.
In addition to the environmental impact of the pipeline, National Grid customers are concerned about the increased cost to the monthly bill to pay for the project. National Grid’s agreement with the state Department of Public Service allows for average raise of $5.56 per month in 2021 and $4.89 per month in 2022.
“Right now we don’t have a lot of faith that the Public Service Commission is going to do the right thing and reject this rate hike,” said Lee Ziesche, a community engagement coordinator with the Sane Energy Project. “That’s why the No North Brooklyn Pipeline coalition came together and decided on the gas bill strike as a tactic.”
“The state and the city really haven’t stood up to National Grid, it’s really only ever been the community,” Ziesche added. “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.”