Northern Brooklyn

Explosions, health risks, higher bills: Why North Brooklyn residents are fighting this project.

"Stop lying to our community."

February 14, 2020 Scott Enman
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Citing risks of explosions, health hazards and higher bills, Community Board 1 unanimously opposed a controversial gas pipeline this week that National Grid wants to build underneath Williamsburg and Greenpoint.

The utility company plans to install roughly 14,000 feet of a new underground gas main and is asking customers to foot the $185 million bill through rate hikes for the final phase of the project.

It’s “a transmission pipeline project that will bascially proliferate the use of fracked gas and build piping infrastructure under residencies and businesses that propose great danger,” said board member Steve Chesler.

“This is not about modernizing our system for heating and cooking. It’s about an excuse to charge ratepayers more money, more profits for National Grid shareholders.”

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The board will be sending a letter to Governor Andrew Cuomo, Mayor Bill de Blasio and John Pettigrew, CEO of National Grid, officially stating their opposition.

Residents and members of the Sane Energy Project also opposed the project at January’s meeting. Photo: Paul Frangipane/Brooklyn Eagle

In addition, nearly two dozen politicians representing areas where the pipeline is being planned have come out against the project. They will also be sending a letter to Cuomo and Public Service Commissioner John Rhodes urging them to reject it.

The project was approved by PSC in 2017 and is 80 percent complete. The pipeline has already been built in East New York, Brownsville, Bushwick and East Williamsburg. Phase four, already underway, will extend from Wilson Avenue to Montrose Avenue and is expected to be completed this fall. That portion of the project has already disrupted businesses in Bushwick and East Williamsburg.

Related: National Grid’s gas moratorium: Everything you need to know

Phase five, if approved, will extend from Montrose Avenue to Maspeth Avenue near Newtown Creek and is expected to be completed next year.

There have been a total of 639 pipeline incidents across the country, according to Chesler, who said those episodes have led to deaths, dozens of injuries and has cost the public $600 million.

“As a longtime resident of East Williamsburg and Greenpoint — neighborhoods that have for decades been environmentally abused by fossil fuel purveyors — I challenge National Grid to stop lying to our community about this pipeline and its true purpose: to fleece New Yorkers through rate hikes, while establishing deeper infrastructure that clings to dead end fossil fuels,” said Sarah Lilley, a community leader in Greenpoint.

Related: Residents protest National Grid’s North Brooklyn gas pipeline

National Grid’s proposed transmission pipes do not bring additional gas into the city, but rather allow for current gas to move around more flexibly. The gas from the pipeline will be shipped out to Long Island and Massachusetts and will not serve North Brooklyn residents.

The project “reinforces and upgrades our local distribution system to improve safety, reliability and resiliency for customers,” according to National Grid.

Dozens of people attended Community Board 1’s January meeting to protest National Grid building a pipeline through North Brooklyn. Photo: Paul Frangipane/Brooklyn Eagle

The utility company presented at CB1’s general meeting in January at the urging of Assemblymember Joe Lentol, who felt it was important for “accountability and transparency,” according to his staffer.

Tamara Gayer, co-president of the Brooklyn Arbor P3 Association, expressed caution about building the pipeline so close to schools in the neighborhood.

“Emissions from these types of fuels are particularly toxic for young children,” she said, adding: “This pipeline in proximity to so many schools should automatically disallow this plan.”

A rally against the pipeline will take place on Saturday at 9 a.m. at Manhattan and Moore streets in Williamsburg.

This is not the first time that National Grid has come under fire. The company refused to supply gas hook-ups to new customers in Brooklyn, Staten Island, parts of Queens and Long Island earlier this year after the state denied its application to build a $1 billion gas pipeline known as the Williams Northeast Supply Enhancement Project.

Cuomo threatened to revoke the company’s certificate to operate its downstate gas franchise if it didn’t lift the moratorium. The governor also demanded that National Grid turn gas back on to customers and businesses — some of which came close to bankruptcy.

New York City Public Advocate Jumaane Williams ripped into the company as well, calling the moratorium a “political ploy” to have the Williams Pipeline built.

Follow reporter Scott Enman on Twitter.

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  1. Walter Goodman

    Some of the bare facts of this pipeline are important to note. The portion that has already been laid under my block, mere inches from the foundation of my building on Decatur Street in Bed Stuy, is 30 inches in diameter and will run at 350 psi. That is very high pressure running through a gigantic pipe, not remotely like the distribution lines that already exist throughout our neighborhoods. Construction is a massive undertaking requiring trenching nearly the entire street, stopping traffic entirely for days at a time, while construction continues over the course of several months. They will literally take over your block, knocking down mailboxes as they did to us, all for the honor of hosting an exceedingly dangerous and greenhouse gas-producing infrastructure.