Environmental and Climate Justice Groups Picket National Grid’s ‘Equity in Energy’ Summit To Protest North Brooklyn Pipeline and Corporate Lobbying Against New York’s Climate Law

The summit excluded communities impacted by National Grid’s North Brooklyn gas pipeline project

Adil Trehan, Sierra Club, adil.trehan@sierraclub.org, 202-630-7275

New York — Today, environmental and climate justice groups picketed utility company National Grid’s ‘Equity in Energy’ summit in Brooklyn. Community members called on the utility to shut off the gas in phases 1-4 of the North Brooklyn pipeline and abandon its LNG expansion plan that will increase health problems for low-income Black and brown communities already facing disproportionate levels of pollution and to stop lobbying against New York’s landmark climate law, the Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act.

National Grid did not invite any members of the communities impacted by the North Brooklyn fracked gas pipeline to speak at the summit, which was marketed as an opportunity to create “a shared action plan” to “collectively ensure equity and inclusion” for Black and brown communities. Speakers at the picket noted the blatant hypocrisy demonstrated as National Grid sought to host an event on equity in energy even as they try to force pipeline plans past public outcry and undermine the state’s climate goals.  

The picket was hosted by No North Brooklyn Pipeline Coalition, Sane Energy Project, Alliance for a Green Economy, UPROSE, Sierra Club, Food & Water Watch, and Start:Empowerment. 

Sierra Club applauds the community members from North Brooklyn who entered the summit event space to protest National Grid’s blatant greenwashing and call for an end to the pipeline. 

Since New York passed the nation-leading Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act (CLCPA) in 2019, National Grid has funded lobbying and ads through corporate front groups spreading false information to exaggerate the cost of electric home appliances, downplay the proven health risks of fossil fuel-burning appliances, and promote their own energy plan that would force customers to spend billions on unproven combustible fuels that increase dependency on aging gas infrastructure and boost shareholder returns. 

Thousands of New Yorkers have submitted comments to the Climate Action Council in support of an equitable and bold Scoping Plan to implement the CLCPA that ensures a managed, benchmarked phase-out of fossil-fuel appliances in homes and buildings as soon as possible, all-electric new construction by 2024, no new fracked gas power plants, and at least 35% of all investment in non-polluting, climate-resilient infrastructure directed to disadvantaged communities.

“If National Grid cared at all about the Black and Brown communities they claimed to represent via this summit, they wouldn’t dare show their faces. The hypocrisy is National Grid feigning equity when their actions, such as the blatant disregard of Civil Rights Act in their planning of the fracked gas pipeline without community consent, shows that equity and doing the ‘hard work’ towards an ‘energy transition that includes and empowers all voices’ is bogus," says Kier Blake, Co-Creator and Organizer with Start:Empowerment. “We refuse to be fleeced with rate hikes only to pay for a racist pipeline we do not want. We are not just consumers with pocketbooks but human beings that have a right to environments and communities that care for us all.”

“As a brown person living in North Brooklyn where National Grid is building a fracked gas pipeline, I don’t want National Grid dictating how we approach equity when it comes to our climate and energy future,” said Jen Chantrtanapichate, Program Director at Sixth Street Community Center and member of the No North Brooklyn Pipeline Coalition and Frack Outta Brooklyn. “This is a company that is focused on bringing big profits to their shareholders from the brand new fossil fuel infrastructure that they are cramming into our Black and Brown communities without community input.”

“National Grid has made itself the poster child for utility greenwashing,” said Ramón Cruz, President of the Sierra Club. “The utility claims it cares about creating an equitable energy system, yet it is continuing to develop its massive fracked gas pipeline in North Brooklyn through Black and brown communities. National Grid continues to spread misinformation & fear about the economic feasibility and affordability of electrification, instead insisting that the only way forward is by relying on continued fuel combustion that will protect their profits and cost customers billions. A true plan for ‘equity in energy’ is one that invests in electrification, is inclusive and transparent, led by those most harmed by dirty gas infrastructure, and accountable to New Yorkers and the Climate Law that National Grid so desperately wants to sabotage.” 

“National Grid convening a summit on ‘Equity in Energy’ is outrageous,” said UPROSE Executive Director Elizabeth Yeampierre. “For them to do so as they continue to push false solutions that sicken our communities and undermine our important state climate justice laws is insulting. It’s time for government officials and the public to understand that National Grid is the enemy of our future.” 

“National Grid is the modern day tobacco industry,” said Avni Pravin, Deputy Director for Alliance for a Green Economy. “They are spending millions of dollars, not on energy solutions that would improve the health, safety, and well being of their customers (as this sham conference would imply), but on hiring lobbyists and PR firms and funding front groups to distract our legislators from electrification. We must be clear: gas infrastructure is not affordable, and National Grid’s greenwashed plan for "fossil free gas" spells more pollution for the Black and brown communities.”

“New Yorkers will not be fooled by National Grid’s deceptive tactics to undermine the state’s climate goals. National Grid promotes false solutions that have just one purpose—to keep the profits from its gas business flowing to shareholders,” said Jen Metzger, Policy Director for New Yorkers for Clean Power and a former State Senator. “It is particularly galling to see the utility attempt to co-opt the language of climate justice when it has been a leading perpetrator of climate injustice, routinely choosing to site polluting fossil fuel infrastructure in disadvantaged communities."

“On Thursday, National Grid once again made false promises and recycled their talking points on “fossil-free gas” – even as they build harmful fracked gas projects in predominantly Black and brown neighborhoods,” said Renee Vogelsang of Frack Action. “This misdirection enables them to continue costing New Yorkers hundreds of millions of dollars in rate hikes while maintaining the use of harmful fossil fuels. Ironically, while the National Grid sponsors this event today, the company spent the past legislative session in Albany lobbying for policies that will weaken climate change measures and further raise prices for years to come." 

About the Sierra Club

The Sierra Club is America’s largest and most influential grassroots environmental organization, with millions of members and supporters. In addition to protecting every person's right to get outdoors and access the healing power of nature, the Sierra Club works to promote clean energy, safeguard the health of our communities, protect wildlife, and preserve our remaining wild places through grassroots activism, public education, lobbying, and legal action. For more information, visit www.sierraclub.org.