The No North Brooklyn Pipeline coalition is encouraging fellow community members to join a National Grid gas bill strike in the face of potential rate hikes meant to fund the aforementioned fracked gas pipeline.
Since June 1, the campaign — which is organized and/or supported by the Sane Energy Project, Brownsville Residents Green Committee, Newtown Creek Alliance, and many more (including local politicians and representatives like Emily Gallagher, Jabari Brisport, and others) — has been in this phase of pipeline resistance, which urges residents to withhold $66 on monthly gas bills. This is in response to National Grid and New York State’s gas bill increase to fund the $185 million needed to complete the pipeline, as well as accusations of greenwashing against National Grid.
“The state and the city really haven’t stood up to National Grid, it’s really only ever been the community; the community shut down construction last year,” Sane Energy Project Community Engagement Coordinator Lee Ziesche said. “And after almost a year of confidential settlement negotiations that didn’t really involve community members … the plan that National Grid and the state came up with and filed in May just really ignored all the community’s concerns.”
The goal of the campaign and strike is to stop the project out of concern for both public health and environmental destruction. The fracked gas infrastructure is set to run through Brownsville, Bed-Stuy, Bushwick, and Williamsburg. National Grid also plans to expand Greenpoint’s liquefied natural gas facility alongside the already heavily polluted Newtown Creek.
“Right now we don’t have a lot of faith that the Public Service Commission is going to do the right thing and reject this rate hike. So that’s why the No North Brooklyn Pipeline coalition came together and decided on the gas bill strike as a tactic,” Ziesche explained. “We’re seeing the impacts of climate change right now in the summer and we’re simply not going to pay for new fossil fuel infrastructure that’s unneeded, that puts the community at risk, that puts the climate at risk. We’re hoping that this show of power, if enough people join it, will actually get the attention of Governor Cuomo and the state of New York, because they keep saying that they’re climate leaders, but that’s not what we’re seeing.”
So far, nearly 200 people have joined the strike and the reaction has been primarily positive. An added benefit has been the continued conversations about energy use and National Grid’s impact on the area. One thing that’s likely impacted the fight has been the increased time that North Brooklyn residents have been spending in their communities over the course of the pandemic, which has also given rise to more localized organizing.
“It is a little bit of an escalated action than what I think a lot of people are used to; it’s definitely more than just signing a petition online. So we are seeing that some people need to talk it through, but I think we’re gaining a lot of momentum and we’re having a ton of conversations with people about their utilities,” Ziesche remarked. “So it’s opening the door for people understanding their connection to the climate fight and how it’s directly connected to the energy they’re using in their homes.”
Throughout the month, the coalition plans to continue efforts to bring neighbors and supporters together through flyering and phone banking with hopes of impacting the bill hike decision, which will most likely be voted on by the Department of Public Service on August 12. Upcoming event information can be found on their website.
Click here to join the strike or receive more information.
“They can’t pretend anymore that this is somehow clean; this is dirty fracked gas that is a disaster for our climate and we’re not going to pay for it. We’re not going to pay for our own destruction,” Ziesche declared.