Activists sue National Grid and NYC over gas facility in Greenpoint

the national grid headquarters
Aderinsola Babawale, an activist with Brownsville Residents Green Committee, speaks outside National Grid’s headquarters at MetroTech on June 1.
Photo by Kevin Duggan

Environmental activists have filed a lawsuit to halt construction of a National Grid’s natural gas facility in Greenpoint, claiming the project, which is still undergoing environmental review, is in violation of state environmental law. 

The suit, filed in Kings County Supreme Court on July 23 by the Sane Energy Project and the Cooper Park Resident Council,  claims that the city and state failed to follow their own environmental review process by neglecting to conduct a proper review of the construction project. 

Specifically, the activists say the city of New York violated the State Environmental Quality Review Act, and name the city, the FDNY, and National Grid as defendants.

Because the proper review never took place, the environmentalists allege, the city should have stopped the construction, and the FDNY should never have granted variances for storing highly explosive Liquid Natural Gas trucks on city streets. 

“This is something that must be stopped and must be stopped immediately,” said Elisha Fye, Vice President of the Cooper Park Residents Council. “I’ve been living in this community since 1953. We’re already impacted in this community with the oil spill that happened. We were stricken with asthma, a pandemic of asthma flooded this community, illnesses, deformities in pregnancies, not to mention the soil is still contaminated to this day.”

National Grid fuel plans, and the explosive opposition. 

If completed, the station — a Liquified Natural Gas (LNG) Trucking Station — would replace a similar previously decommissioned station, despite a ban on the construction of new LNG facilities in the Five Boroughs, which was instituted following the 1973 explosion at an LNG facility on Staten Island that killed 40 workers. 

The lawsuit is seeking a temporary restraining order on the project.

The petitioners, many of whom live in the immediate vicinity of the site, argue that the construction of the trucking station will put them in danger, citing past catastrophes and the potential for spills and leaks, soil disturbance, and an increase in flooding. 

“The number of trucks combined with passenger cars going through our neighborhood is dangerous to pedestrians and those who live here,” said Eric Kun, who lives near the facility. “Levels of asthma and other respiratory illnesses are at an all time high. To add hundreds of additional trucks transporting explosive material throughout North Brooklyn will be an environmental disaster.” 

The trucking station is at the facility located at the apex of the controversial North Brooklyn Pipeline, which Mayor Bill de Blasio vocally opposed only after the pipeline was nearly complete. Hizzoner, however, has not commented on the expansion of the facility, which activists call the “head of the black snake” for its place atop the pipeline. 

The environmentalist groups have met with representatives of the Mayor’s Office of Climate and Sustainability, but have gotten no results. 

“In a city that is seeing record floods, heat waves, and smoke filled skies from wildfires in Oregon caused by climate change, it is abominable that their response is silence while congratulating themselves on climate leadership and partnering with corporations that cause climate change,” said Kim Fraczek, Director of Sane Energy Project.

A spokesperson for National Grid defended the utility’s commitment to clean energy and blasted the lawsuit as frivulous. 

“We are working together with our customers and all our stakeholders to develop the right steps and programs as well as new technology solutions and innovations to ensure we can achieve the safe, reliable, zero-carbon clean energy future we all want,” said Karen Young. “It is disappointing the parties here chose to file a frivolous lawsuit that has no chance of encouraging meaningful change.  We remain willing to come to the table.”

Sane Energy Project and Cooper Park Resident Council have previously sued National Grid and the State Department of Environmental Conservation over the expansion of the Greenpoint gas depot, and led the fight against the North Brooklyn Pipeline and proposed National Grid rate increase. 

Representatives of the city’s legal department and National Grid did not return Brooklyn Paper’s requests for comment by deadline.