US Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer has joined the grassroots fight against a proposed natural gas pipeline slated to run through several Brooklyn neighborhoods.
Schumer, a Brooklyn native, voiced his opposition to the North Brooklyn Pipeline on Aug. 6, saying that the project would be harmful to vulnerable populations, and that it violates the Climate Leadership and Community Act (CLPCA).
“This pipeline violates the precepts of the CLCPA,” Schumer said at a press conference outside a Greenpoint gas facility on Friday. “How could they pass a law and then let them undo the law? What good is a law if we let people go ahead and ignore it, debase it, and get around it?”
The pipeline, planned by the utility company National Grid, is set to run through parts of north and central Brooklyn — snaking through Greenpoint, Williamsburg, Bedford Stuyvesant, and Brownsville. It has sparked intense opposition in those neighborhoods by residents and activists who say the project will be harmful to the predominantly Black and brown communities it runs through. The anti-pipeline activists have also blasted the expansion of fossil fuel-burning infrastructure amid the growing climate crisis.
Schumer compared the project to the city’s history of routing harmful expressways through poor neighborhoods.
“When they had to build a highway, when they had to build a pipeline, they didn’t go to the communities where there was power and wealth… they went through poor communities, communities of color,” he said. “That meant more asthma, more particulates in the lungs, it meant more poison in the air — that’s got to stop.”
The pipeline is as-of-right, meaning it does need to seek special permission to move forward, and most of the necessary infrastructure is already in the ground. Mayor Bill de Blasio has voiced his opposition to the project, but the city has continued to issue construction permits for the project.
Opponents to the project are focusing their efforts on the state Department of Environmental Conservation, which they say has not conducted an adequate environmental review in compliance with the CLCPA, and on the Public Service Commission, which regulates utilities.
Every elected official in the affected areas have voiced their opposition to the project, with advocates now putting pressure on the governor’s administration while Gov. Andrew Cuomo faces widespread calls to resign in the face of a sexual harassment scandal.
“For as long as he’s still around, and hopefully not too much longer, he must direct his folks to finally get on board and stop this,” said 33rd council district Democratic nominee Lincoln Restler. “Whether it’s Andrew Cuomo or Kathy Hochul we are looking for leadership in Albany, we are looking for leadership from the governor’s office to finally join us.”
National Grid defended the project in a statement.
“National Grid shares Senator Schumer’s commitment to transitioning to a sustainable energy future, which we all know will not happen overnight,” said spokesperson Karen Young. “In the meantime, we have an obligation to provide energy to our two million downstate customers until there is a viable, affordable alternative for heating.”