Community Groups Call on EPA to Bring DEC in Compliance with Title VI Before Issuing Air Permit

Today, the community groups that filed a federal civil rights complaint alleging National Grid’s Brooklyn Natural Gas Pipeline discriminated against communities of color called on the Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) to conduct a full, lawful environmental review of the impacts of the pipeline and the Greenpoint LNG vaporizers together, in advance of issuing an air permit to National Grid for the LNG facility. The pipeline and LNG expansion is part of a single project that DEC must evaluate as one project.  Read the full letter.

“Issuing this air permit would be a clear violation of the law and significantly endanger the health, safety, and well-being of local residents by allowing toxins to infiltrate neighborhoods already burdened by high rates of asthma. The DEC discriminated against our clients by ignoring the environmental impacts that this project would impose on communities of color in violation of state law and Title VI. DEC must conduct an environmental assessment of the pipeline with the LNG facility before making any decision, and this pipeline must be shut down and the gas needs to be turned off,” remarked Anjana Malhotra, Senior Attorney.

·  The air permit is set to be issued on February 7th and would allow for additional emissions associated with two new vaporizers to the Greenpoint LNG facility to handle the increased flow of gas the pipeline will deliver to the facility, which would significantly expand the number of toxic fumes in the air.

·  The filing, submitted to the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and Department of Transportation (DOT), argues issuing this air permit would be illegal, in violation of Title VI and New York State Environmental Law, DEC policies, and the Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act (CLPCA), as DEC failed to undertake a full environmental assessment of the combined impacts of the North Brooklyn Pipeline with National Grid’s LNG facility as a whole project on state-designated environmental justice communities before issuing their “negative declaration” of no environmental impact 

·  The civil rights complaint argues that because the LNG facility and pipeline are combined projects, the environmental assessment needed to be conducted on both of them, not just on the LNG facility, which is what DEC did. National Grid has been clear that the pipeline would increase the potential gas flow to the Greenpoint facility by more than 1.8 million cubic feet per hour, allowing National Grid to deliver gas to more than 18, 979 new customers –making the LNG upgrade a necessity in order to process the additional gas and sell it to customers.

·  The decision by DEC to only review the impact of the LNG facility breaks from its direct precedent when reviewing such projects in predominantly white communities and violates Title VI of the Civil Rights Act. 

·  The filing calls on DEC to immediately rescind its negative declaration and conduct a full study to determine whether the Greenpoint LNG expansion and pipeline together may have a significant environmental impact

·  In October, the EPA announced it would investigate the New York State DEC’s actions in approving National Grid’s Brooklyn natural gas pipeline. The DOT also announced that it would investigate the New York State Department of Public Service. This letter calls on EPA and DOT to bring DEC into compliance with Title VI by conducting a full evaluation of the LNG expansion and pipeline together before deciding whether to issue the air permit.