NORTHERN BROOKLYN — Over the past few months, members of the North Brooklyn community have spoken in opposition to National Grid’s Metropolitan Reliability Infrastructure (MRI) project, a 30-inch-wide, 36,000-foot-long pipeline that would travel from Brownsville to Greenpoint.
Construction on the project kicked off in spring of 2017, starting at Linden Boulevard in Brownsville, and, according to a construction update on National Grid’s website, began on Montrose Avenue on January 13. Two weeks ago, we reported on many businesses suffering financial losses as a result of the construction on Moore Street between Humboldt Street and Graham Avenue in Williamsburg.
On January 15, over 50 Brooklyn residents showed up to a Community Board 1 Meeting in Williamsburg where National Grid representatives were scheduled to give a presentation on the project. Over a dozen community members took the podium to voice their individual concerns. The project would increase gas rates for National Grid customers, and, members believed, both bolster the city’s reliance on natural gas and put the community at risk of a gas leak or explosion.
This past Tuesday, the Board voted unanimously to oppose the project.
Emily Gallagher, a candidate for State Assembly 2020 and member of Community Board 1’s Environmental Committee, said that the Board wanted to move quickly to communicate their stance to National Grid and to elected officials.
“Having seen the strong show at the Community Board [meeting on January 15], and also seeing what National Grid was trying to get away with and tell us — which was just complete nonsense — we really felt a sense of urgency to come out and declare that we were, as a board, opposed to it.”
“Our neighborhood has such a strong environmental justice history, and so many people on the board have been a part of previous battles,” Gallagher said, noting that the Board was fairly confident that the resolution would pass. “To have the resolution pass unanimously, however, really showed how powerful the organizing has been against it.”
Gallagher hopes that the resolution will help keep the project from being completed, and that future attempts to bring this type of structure into the community will be barred. “We’d like to see some kind of action that is definitive,” Gallagher said.
“The community does not trust National Grid to be a responsible stakeholder in the place that we live,” activist and Greenpoint resident Kevin LaCherra believes, who presented on the Tuesday meeting. What they’re demanding of Mayor de Blasio and Governor Cuomo, LaCherra said, “is to stand up and say the same.”
We asked National Grid what the resolution meant for the pipeline:
“This project improves safety, reliability and resiliency for our existing customers. It does not bring additional gas into the system,” National Grid media representative Karen Young told Bklyner in an email. “The project is important to natural gas customers in the local community who depend on gas service to heat their homes and run their businesses. The gas main design, engineering controls and safety features we have in place meet or exceed NYC construction standards. Capital investment projects like this are reviewed by State regulators and other interested parties to ensure the company invests wisely on behalf of existing natural gas customers in Brooklyn.”
Environmental justice group Sane Energy Project, who have organized extensively to oppose the project, have called for a rally tomorrow near National Grid’s construction site at the corner of Moore Street and Manhattan Avenue.
Sane Energy Project’s Community Engagement Coordinator, Lee Ziesche, told Bklyner that, now armed with the knowledge of how the project will affect them and their communities, Brooklyn residents can speak out against it.
“Now, National Grid can’t pretend like they’re being good neighbors. It’s clear that the community doesn’t want this,” Ziesche said, which put more pressure on Governor Cuomo, Mayor de Blasio, and the public service commission.
“Are they going to continue to support this when the community says ‘no’?” she said. “Whose side are they going to be on?”
The rally was also organized by Assembly Member Joe Lentol’s office, North Brooklyn Extinction Rebellion, and eight other groups and offices. It will, Ziesche said, be “completely family-friendly” and safe for elders as well as people from “vulnerable communities” who may not want to be around police.
The rally will begin at 9 a.m. on Saturday, February 15, at the corner of Moore Street and Manhattan Avenue, and will include speeches from members of the community.