National Grid. Photo: Bebeto Matthews/AP
This week, at two public hearings, North Brooklyn elected officials and many community residents slammed National Grid’s proposal to build two new gas vaporizers at its storage facility on Newtown Creek.
A liquid natural gas (LNG) vaporizer, according to Cryonorm, a developer of these vaporizers, is a form of heat exchanger that turns LNG, which has been stored as a liquid under extremely low sub-zero temperatures, back into vapor, or gas, for use when peak demand increases.
In 2021, Brooklyn State Supreme Court Justice Karen Rothenberg ordered a halt to construction at the facility that, she said, could be used to truck LNG there, according to THE CITY. Opponents have long said that trucking LNG could pose safety and environmental risks. However, National Grid’s website describing the Greenpoint Energy Center, the formal name for its facility, claimed that “There is no trucking of LNG to or from the Greenpoint Energy Center, and there is no trucking of LNG associated with the project.”
The first hearing was held at Cooper Park Houses, a public housing complex across the street from the facility.
“We are a hurt community,” said Elisha Fye, Cooper Park Resident Council vice president. “These vaporizers are harming this community. I’ve been here for 68 years and I’ve watched so many people occur medical conditions. There’s other ways you can make money without harming us.”
“We need to be focused on assessing the vulnerabilities of our waterfronts. National Grid’s proposed project fails to address these coastal vulnerabilities,” said Annel Hernandez, director of climate and environmental policy for Councilmember Sandy Nurse (D-Bushwick-East New York).
“The Greenpoint Energy Center is located right in both the FEMA 100-year and 500-year flood plain, as well as a hurricane storm surge zone. We’ve seen with Hurricane Katrina, Sandy, Harvey, Maria… floodwater inundation can dislodge chemicals, fossil fuels, and other hazardous materials and hurt the nearby communities. We see that these storms are intensifying,” he added.
A second hearing was held Wednesday evening at the Polish and Slavic Center in Greenpoint.
“Today is the day that we must end all new fossil fuel infrastructure,” said Councilmember Lincoln Restler, a Democrat whose district stretches from Greenpoint to DUMBO to Boerum Hill. “I strongly oppose National Grid’s plan to build two new vaporizers at the Newtown Creek facility. I hope the members of the Public Service Commission hear this community in one loud voice saying hell no to these new vaporizers.”
“Investing in new fossil fuel infrastructure in 2022 is climate denial and to make all of us pay for that climate denial adds insult to injury,” said Assemblymember Emily Gallagher (D-Greenpoint-Williamsburg). “I call on the Department of Public Service, the Department of Environmental Conservation and Governor Hochul to deny these permits and the rate increase.”
National Grid has said the vaporizer will cost $65 million and has filed with the New York State Public Service Commission to recoup those costs by raising monthly gas bills, according to Sane Energy Project.
Some National Grid customers have launched a gas bill strike, refusing to pay part of their bills, to protest the North Brooklyn Pipeline, currently under construction. If completed, the pipeline would connect to the LNG facility.
Greenpoint resident and No North Brooklyn Pipeline Coalition member Margot Spindelman said. “Kathy Hochul’s Public Service Commission needs to show what side they are on and say no to the vaporizers and to the pipeline, never building Phase 5 and shutting off the gas in Phases 1 to 4.”
Several community members who live along the already-completed areas of the North Brooklyn Pipeline attended the hearing criticized National Grid, saying the utility never had any public hearings in Brownsville, Ocean Hill, Bed-Stuy and Bushwick and did not complete a satisfactory environmental review of the project.