Protesters rally against north Brooklyn pipeline

Protesters gathered in opposition to National Grid gas pipeline in Williamsburg on Feb. 15.
Photo by Derrick Watterson

Environmentalists rallied against National Grid’s ongoing construction of a seven-mile natural gas pipeline under the streets of Williamsburg and Bushwick Saturday, with one local activist saying that the community will step up to battle the project if elected officials fail to do so.

“If Mayor de Blasio and Governor Cuomo won’t be real climate leaders and stop this pipeline, the community will,” said Bushwick resident and director of the environmentalist advocacy group Sane Energy Project Kim Fraczek.

The protesters braved the bitter cold to voice their opposition of the utility firm’s current project to install the stretch of natural gas pipeline connecting its system in Brownsville to its Maspeth Avenue depot at Newtown Creek, which company officials claim is designed to relieve pressure on its network and support economic growth in the area.

Protester Maria Hernandez (left) opposed the pipeline.Photo by Derrick Watterson

They gathered at one of the current construction sites at Manhattan Avenue and Moore Street, chanting “We say no.”

The new pipes would allow for gas to flow in from Texas, Tennessee, and Canada to Brooklyn at a reduced pressure of about 15 pounds — or about half the pressure in a car tire — beneath the borough’s street.

But one Williamsburg mom at the weekend gathering said the company and the government should be moving away from fracking fossil fuels to stem the disastrous effects of climate change.

“We as a state, we really worked on and we banned fracking, but it’s not really banning if you’re supporting it in other states by getting it in here,” said Tamara Gayer. “As a parent in an age where climate change is becoming more important, there was just no way to ignore this.”

Williamsburg resident Tamara Gayer said the pipeline will be a danger for local kids.Photo by Derrick Watterson

Another environmentalist echoed Gayer’s sentiments, advocating for the powers that be to transition to a greener economy.

“We know that a different future is possible, one rooted in renewable energy, a just transition and green jobs, and this is the future we deserve,” said Maggie Berke, of the activist organization Sunrise Movement’s New York City chapter.

Opponents previously crowded into a local Community Board 1 meeting to vent at National Grid officials last month.

A construction site of the pipeline near the protest.Photo by Derrick Watterson

A spokeswoman for the project noted that the project does not bring any additional gas into the system and said that it was necessary to provide Brooklynites with safe and reliable service.

“This project improves safety, reliability and resiliency for our existing customers,” said Karen Young in a statement. “The gas main design, engineering controls and safety features we have in place meet or exceed NYC construction standards.”

The state’s Public Service Commission signed off on the project’s route in 2017, and split the tube into five phases — starting in Brownsville and snaking its way north to Bedford-Stuyvesant, before heading west through Bushwick in 2019.

The fourth phase started last October and the company is currently working along Bushwick, Montrose, and Manhattan avenues, along with Moore Street, according to its latest construction update.