A band of protesters booming Johnny Cash’s ‘Ring of Fire’ rolled up to the FDNY headquarters in Downtown Brooklyn Wednesday to drop off a giant letter with a simple request: Deny the permits.

In the latest move in their fight against National Grid’s North Brooklyn Pipeline, Brooklyn climate activists, including former-FDNY staff, are asking the FDNY to deny permits it says the utility needs to expand its Greenpoint facility with more Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) and Compressed Natural Gas (CNG) equipment.

“LNG is highly explosive,” activist and Sane Energy Project organizer Lee Ziesche told the crowd of about 25 cycling protestors.

Sane Energy Project organizer Lee Ziesche. Photo: Jessy Edwards for the BK Reader.

“We’re asking the FDNY to reject all the permits. It’s not just for the community, but the fire fighters themselves, who would have to rush in if something happened.”

National Grid needs more than 10 permits from the FDNY for the expansion. 

Ziesche said the FDNY also has the power to ensure that a full Environmental Impact Statement is done, assessing the environmental impact on the community, which protestors were asking for as well.

The expansion

National Grid is currently seeking approvals to move forward with an expansion plan that would see it build two new LNG vaporizers and two new CNG injection heaters in Greenpoint.

The plan would also see trucks carrying CNG through Greenpoint during periods of peak demand, which protestors said was dangerous.

Protestors came to deliver this letter to the FDNY. Photo: Jessy Edwards for the BK Reader.

In Sept. 2019, a truck carrying CNG overturned near Binghamton, New York, puncturing its container system and sending compressed methane gas leaking into the atmosphere. The incident caused Governor Andrew Cuomo to issue a state of emergency in Broome County, closing two school systems for a day and requiring the evacuation of approximately 80 homes.

Former FDNY deputy chief Ed Power attended the rally and said National Grid was putting profits before people: “It’s our risk for their reward.”

The 28-year FDNY veteran said many other current and former first responders he had talked to were against the LNG and CNG expansion.

Ed Power hands the letter to a FDNY rep. Photo: Jessy Edwards for the BK Reader.

Due to the particular makeup of LNG, it could create a “nightmarish scenario” for the FDNY and the public if there was any sort of spill, he said.

While protesters weren’t expecting any FDNY representatives to show up Wednesday — having received no response to their initial communications — three men did exit the headquarters to meet them.

Power handed over a giant, printed copy of the protesters’ requests to the men, who assured him the letter would get to FDNY Commissioner Daniel A. Nigro.

Sane Energy Project organizer Monica Hunken. Photo: Jessy Edwards for the BK Reader.

Meanwhile, SANE Energy organizer Monica Hunken asked the FDNY to “be heroes” and protect New Yorkers against the threat National Grid was posing.

“FDNY, keep us safe,” the protesters chanted. “Stop the head of the pipeline snake!”

FDNY responds

For the last year, a grassroots movement has been growing in opposition to the fracked gas pipeline National Grid has been building through Brownsville, Bed-Stuy, Bushwick and Williamsburg, ending at its facility in Greenpoint.

Wednesday’s caravan was the latest move in efforts to stop the pipeline, which has been accused of exacerbating climate racism with a multi-million price tag for ratepayers.

Photo: Jessy Edwards for the BK Reader.

In a statement made to the BK Reader after the rally, FDNY spokeperson Frank Dwyer said the department has no role approving the construction of natural gas pipelines or otherwise regulating the natural gas supply.

However, the Fire Department does regulate fire safety at National Grid’s existing natural gas facility in Greenpoint, he said.

“The Department’s role is limited to the safe storage, handling and use of natural gas in accordance with applicable fire safety requirements. The Fire Department’s consideration of such matters would not require that we evaluate the pipeline development.

“The Fire Department reviews and considers all applications and permits in accordance with applicable laws, rules and regulations.”

Photo: Jessy Edwards for the BK Reader.

Responding to the protests, National Grid spokesperson Karen Young told BK Reader the project was a “non-pipeline solution to ensure reliability on the coldest winter days when demand is at the highest and customers need energy to heat their homes.” 

She said the project was part of a company report that outlined a non-pipeline solution coupled with “energy efficiency and demand response to reduce gas usage and solve for capacity constraints in the region.” 

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Jessy Edwards

Jessy Edwards is a freelance writer based in Bushwick. Originally from New Zealand, she has written for the BBC, Rolling Stone, NBC New York, CNBC and her hometown newspaper, The Dominion Post, among others.

Join the Conversation

5

  1. For National Grid to say “it’s a non-pipeline solution” shows their disregard for our intelligence. Of course it’s part of a pipeline. An expensive, dangerous one. If there were an accident anywhere along the line, at the LNG port or with one of the trucks, the only facility equipped to handle it in NYC is in Queens. There’s no way they could get to the scene in time to prevent loss of property, perhaps life. Thanks to FDNY for showing up to receive the letter. Please do the right thing.

  2. Stick with clean safe and dependable oil heat.Oil won’t blow up a building and has greater BTU’s for better warmth.

    1. Hi Frank! No, this is National Grid’s idea. Cuomo punished Grid for lying about not having enough gas to push NESE through (the would have made millions for their shareholders by charging us w that pipe). Also, Nat Grid actually never presented to the public on this project. They are lying about need yet again to make money for shareholders on our dime. They don’t make money selling us gas. They make money building infrastructure and getting a rate of return. We need to remove a profit based energy system, moved to publicly owned renewable power. We can absolutely do it.

  3. This is stupid. NATIONAL GRID IS TRYING TO EXPAND SO THEY CAN DO RENEWABLE GAS. Also natural gas is not harmful to environment, it is actually clean and affordable energy. So I hope National grid expands because people as well as nyc need natural gas.

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