On Feb. 7, Governor Kathy Hochul and the Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) will decide whether National Grid can add two vaporizers at its Greenpoint facility. If allowed, the vaporizers will add to the Metropolitan Reliability Infrastructure, commonly known as The North Brooklyn Pipeline. 

It’s a move that activists argue would increase air pollution in the area. Vaporizers are used to reheat liquified natural gas, changing it from its liquid form back to a gas form.

The seven-mile natural gas pipeline began construction in 2017. The pipeline stretches from Brownsville to Williamsburg currently. Communities and activists alike have opposed the pipeline for years. Organizations like The Sane Energy Project say that the pipeline threatens the health and safety of those in the communities surrounding it. After protests and multiple lawsuits, the final phase of the pipeline, the Greenpoint portion of the project, was halted in 2020. 

The pipeline protests have even drawn activism from politicians, like District 36 Councilmember Chi Ossé. Councilmember Ossé met with Gov. Hochul on Monday night to discuss the pipeline and its meaning for his community. 

“When I was called by the Governor’s Office to have a meeting with my fellow Brooklyn Council members, I knew that this was my opportunity to have my one direct ask to shut down this evil pipeline,” said Ossé in an interview with Bushwick Daily.

Councilmember Ossé added that not only will the pipeline affect the Black and Brown communities in North Brooklyn, but it will also affect the city and the planet. 

“It’s outrageous. Asthma rates are higher in the Black and Brown communities because of environmental racism and because of projects like this. It is my duty to shut this down. It’s going through neighborhoods of color. This is an American history of environmental racism that we see not only in New York City but in this country as a whole,” said Councilmember Ossé. 

In addition to harming residents, in a city where local politicians are actively trying to reduce emissions, the pipeline moves away from the goal of reaching net-zero by 2050. The pipeline is also a sharp turn from Local Law 97, which requires that most buildings over 25,000 square feet meet new energy efficiency and greenhouse gas emissions limits by 2024. The continuation of the pipeline also goes against Intro 2317, a law that restricts the usage of fossil fuels in newly constructed residential and commercial buildings.

“The big question is, why are they doing this?” said Breeze Glazer, Co-founder of LeapStep, which provides sustainable design services for buildings and organizations. 

“The notion of a new Natural Gas pipeline doesn’t align with what the city itself is requiring. It’s unclear why someone would invest this much money in a new pipeline in the ground unless they have a financial benefit,” said Glazer. 

The pipeline is also funded at the expense of National Grid customers. National Grid is requesting $300 million of ratepayers’ money, according to the No North Brooklyn Pipeline website. The monthly bills of customers are supposed to increase. In an effort to halt the continuation of the pipeline, the No North Brooklyn Pipeline created a petition to ask Gov. Hochul to stop the project. The petition has already received over 10,000 votes, nearing its goal of 12,800. 

“They are building fossil fuel infrastructure that will be a stranded asset. All of us will end up footing the bill for their expensive and unnecessary projects,” said Fraczek. 

“They are trying to cash out at the tail end of the fossil fuel age,” she added. 

In an email to Bushwick Daily, the DEC said, “The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) subjects all applications for environmental permits to a transparent and rigorous review process that encourages public input at every step and includes review of all public comments. DEC has neither approved nor issued any permit to National Grid regarding the Greenpoint project. DEC subjects every application to rigorous review of all applicable federal and state standards to ensure the agency’s decision is protective of public health and the environment, upholds environmental justice and fairness, and meets applicable standards, including those related to the Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act.”

National Grid did not respond to an interview request. 

Editor’s note: A previous version of this article incorrectly described the function of vaporizers. The correction was made at 2:42 p.m. on Friday, Jan. 14.

Screenshot of No North Brooklyn Pipeline’s recent IG video.

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