The No North Brooklyn Pipeline coalition is continuing to focus on building community support in light of this week’s Public Service Commission vote to approve the National Grid gas bill hike.
Last Friday, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer joined the fight during a press conference in Greenpoint where he voiced his opposition to the fracked-gas pipeline.
“The facts are clear, this pipeline will undermine New York’s climate goals while pumping carbon-based fuel through communities that already face high pollution,” Schumer declared outside of National Grid’s fracked-gas storage depot. “We have to support clean energy projects that build up our communities and advance the future of non-carbon energy, not old methods that set us back — especially here in New York.”
“Obviously that was a very big deal … There’s a good amount of unity from City Council level all the way up to the Senate Majority Leader saying that we can’t continue to build fracked-gas projects, but the only person who was really missing on that was Cuomo, right?” Lee Ziesche, community engagement coordinator for the Sane Energy Project, acknowledged.
Andrew Cuomo, who resigned from his seat as New York State governor on August 10, appointed the Public Service Commission, which voted “yes” on National Grid’s proposal to raise monthly gas bills for the sake of funding the controversial pipeline and other fracked-gas projects on Thursday.
“I think we are in the position we are today because, while [Cuomo] has talked a really big game, there’s definitely been a lack of climate leadership there. So I do think it is a very big deal that this fight has gotten so much attention,” Ziesche said.
Ahead of the vote (and Cuomo’s resignation), the No North Brooklyn Pipeline coalition held a rally and march on August 7 as a final push to gain community support. Senator Julia Salazar, Chi Ossé, Sandy Nurse, Jen Gutierrez (whose district is the location of the liquefied national gas facility), and more expressed solidarity with strikers.
With the Public Service Commission’s decision in the rearview, the No North Brooklyn Pipeline coalition looks ahead with goals for continued mobilization, including maintaining their gas bill strike, which began in early June and urges residents to withhold $66 on their monthly bills.
“We’re ready to really encourage more people to join that strike once the rate hike is actually passed, when they start seeing their bills going up to pay for the pipeline. We’ve been having a lot of conversations with people, we’ve made over 1,600 phone calls. We’ve been talking to people the past few months about this and people want to get involved. We definitely saw that energy at the rally on Saturday; people were picking up postcards so they could tell their neighbors,” Ziesche explained. “We’re ready to use a bad decision to mobilize people.”
This decision also comes on the heels of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s report on the “unequivocal” human impact on the climate and “irreversible” changes to the oceans and global ice sheets.
“The Public Service Commission is making this decision at a time where people are even more hyper-aware of climate change after a summer of people seeing climate change right in their faces, so we’re hopeful that it will get people more involved,” Ziesche said.
These actions are all part of the overarching fight for public power, and it remains to be seen what movements might be possible by the state with Cuomo out of the picture.
For more information on the Public Service Commission’s decision and a discussion of next steps, the No North Brooklyn Pipeline coalition will be hosting a town hall on Monday, August 23, at 7:30 P.M. Register here.