The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced it will launch a probe into the controversial North Brooklyn Pipeline Project. Operated by National Grid, the pipeline would run underneath parts of Brownsville, Greenpoint, Bedford-Stuyvesant, and Williamsburg if completed.
The federal probe was prompted by a lawsuit filed against National Grid by Brownsville Green Justice, Ocean Hill-Brownsville Coalition of Young Professionals, Mi Casa Resiste, and the Indigenous Kinship Collective.
Their complaint argues that the project was rushed through the community review process and would have a disproportionate impact on the health of communities of color.
“Representing the pipeline to the public as small segments, National Grid evaded public hearings and disguised the nature of its construction work so that community members did not learn of the pipeline until it was nearly complete,” the complaint reads. “National Grid claimed that it needed to build the pipeline to maintain safe and adequate service, but the scale of the project dwarfed those needs and demonstrated National Grid’s true purpose: a massive expansion of fracked gas infrastructure.
The complaint also argues that National Grid did not need to build the pipeline through communities of color with disproportionate poverty, pollution, and poor health. National Grid had other options, it continues, including routing the pipeline through whiter, higher-income areas or not building a pipeline at all.”
The EPA will determine if the Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) and Department of Public Service (DPS). violated the federal civil rights act during the pipeline’s hearing and approval process.
“The pipeline was designed to help efficiently operate a distribution system that is vital to meeting the critical energy needs of our 1.9 million customers downstate safely and reliably,” a spokesperson for National Grid responded following the announcement. “The project provides an additional loop within the existing gas network that services all of Brooklyn to improve system reliability, operational flexibility, and redundancy.”
Members of the organizations that filed the complaint celebrated the EPA announcement.
“This was done without the community’s knowledge and ignored the environmental consequences, health risks, and economic harms this posed for people to live in their communities,” members of Brownsville Green Justice wrote in a statement.
The lawsuit is not the only legal action being taken to try and stop the project.
In July, the Cooper Park Resident Council andSane Energy Project filed a lawsuit arguing that the city and state both failed to conduct a the State Environmental Quality Review (SEQR) process required for any project that relates to the use of liquefied natural gas.
That lawsuit resulted in a temporary restraining order that brought the pipeline project to a halt, but it is yet to attract federal action.