Environmental justice advocates have spent more than a year staging demonstrations against a natural gas pipeline being built in Brooklyn, New York. They’ve biked the route of the pipeline, chained themselves to a construction site, and organized a gas bill strike. Now, their opposition has a new legal angle.

Residents of Brooklyn and their attorneys filed a legal complaint late last month, arguing that National Grid’s nearly-finished Metropolitan Reliability Infrastructure Project, or MRI — known to locals as the “North Brooklyn Pipeline” — violates the Civil Rights Act by placing disproportionate harms and risks onto communities of color. The complaint was submitted to federal agencies including the Environmental Protection Agency, or EPA, and the Department of Justice, and a press release named New York’s Department of Environmental Conservation and Department of Public Service as “complicit” in National Grid’s racial discrimination.

Four-fifths of the originally planned pipeline have already been completed and are in service, and National Grid recently agreed to drop its plan to build a fifth section, at least for now. But community organizers are requesting that the Biden administration revoke National Grid’s operating license and stanch the flow of gas.

“It’s disrespectful that this continues to happen in Black and brown communities,” said Fabian Rogers, a member of a community group called Brownsville Green Justice, during a rally to unveil the complaint. “Turn the gas off immediately.”

According to the complaint, National Grid failed to notify or educate the public about the pipeline and its potential impacts to communities of color, including health risks from leaking methane and contamination of the soil and groundwater. The danger of an explosion is particularly concerning, the complaint said, pointing to National Grid’s history of leaks and safety violations, plus the fact that nearly 160,000 New Yorkers — 70 percent of whom are nonwhite — live within the pipeline’s blast zone.

Read the full article about the North Brooklyn Pipeline by Joseph Winters at Grist.