The state Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) has again delayed a decision that could have blocked National Grid from installing two new gas vaporizers at its Newtown Creek plant, disappointing Greenpoint public housing residents who live across from the plant.

In May 2020, National Grid applied to the DEC for an air permit to add two new Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) vaporizers to its facility.

On Monday, the DEC confirmed to BK Reader that it had suspended its deadline for a decision on the permit.

Brooklyn climate activists say it is the sixth time the DEC has delayed the permit decision.

A protest against National Grid’s expansion in Downtown Brooklyn. Photo: Jessy Edwards for the BK Reader.

The DEC said it is delaying because it wants to wait for National Grid to resolve a public proceeding before the state Public Service Commission evaluating whether the utility can prove the project is needed for reliability.

“This action is necessary to ensure the DEC has all the necessary facts, latest information, and outcomes of the PSC examination to render its decision,” a spokesperson said.

They added that National Grid cannot begin construction of the project until DEC approves the permit.

However Elisha Fye, vice president of Cooper Park Houses– a public housing complex directly across the street from National Grid’s LNG facility– said the delay felt like “the same thing again and again.”

“My community will not be able to heal or rest until we know that National Grid stops expanding their poison for good.”

Opponents Say DEC Let Residents Down

Brooklyn community members and politicians have been fighting the new vaporizers since the plan was announced, demanding Governor Kathy Hochul and the DEC deny the permits.

They said Monday that the DEC has let them down by punting the decision to the PSC.

“[Governor Kathy] Hochul and the DEC could have protected families living next to National Grid’s Greenpoint liquified fracked gas storage facility but instead chose to keep them at risk,” the No North Brooklyn Pipeline Coalition said in a statement.

No matter what the Public Service Commission says about the need for the project, the bid to build two new LNG vaporizers at the plant goes against New York’s climate laws, attorney for the Sane Energy Project and Cooper Park Resident Council Ruhan Nagra said.

Congressmember Nydia Velázquez speaking out against the LNG project in January. Photo: Screenshot / Instagram / @nonbkpipeline

New York’s Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act (CLCPA) of 2019 establishes aggressive, legally binding targets with the aim to completely transition New York’s economy off fossil fuels. The vaporizers go against the CLCPA, opponents say.

“We are extremely disappointed that DEC has failed once again to stand with environmental justice communities,” Nagra said.

“DEC still has a chance to do the right thing and deny this permit.”

Fight Part of Larger Battle Against Pipeline

Brooklyn opponents to the project say the vaporizers are part of National Grid’s bigger plan to complete a controversial fracked gas pipeline that already runs through Brownsville, Bed-Stuy, Bushwick and East Williamsburg.

Brownsville residents protest the pipeline. Photo: Supplied/Gabriel Jamison

They also say increased emissions from the project would harm the health of locals and contribute to climate change.

But National Grid says its Greenpoint Energy Center Project expansion is necessary to ensure that 1.9 million residential and business customers have the energy they need to stay warm.

The utility says the vaporizers are not related to the pipeline, and don’t add more LNG to the facility. It says the vaporizers heat up liquified gas so the utility can add more gas into the system during peak demand.

Brooklyn residents announced an administrative filing against the National Grid North Brooklyn pipeline in 2021. Photo: Supplied

On Monday, National Grid spokeperson Wendy Figeria told BK Reader the company had agreed to a “mutual extension” with the DEC to allow time to initiate the PSC review of its Greenpoint Energy Center Vaporizer Project to confirm it is necessary for reliability.

“A decision on this project is critical to ensure we can serve our existing customers on the coldest winter days when they need us most for heating,” Figeria said. 

They estimate that process will take three to four months.

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Jessy Edwards

Jessy Edwards is a 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.

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