The Keith summarizes Cuomo’s Plan to Permit LNG Gas Bombs Statewide.
Commentary: Liquefied gas plan offers peril to state
By Keith Schue, Commentary
Published 10:14 pm, Saturday, October 26, 2013
In 1976, in the wake of a horrific explosion on Staten Island that killed 40 people, the New York state Legislature put a hold on new liquefied natural gas facilities, pending the adoption of regulations.
But the Department of Environmental Conservation never actually wrote any rules, so a de facto ban has been in place ever since. Fracking changes that. Just in time for Halloween, DEC has resurrected Frankenstein regulations that it failed to adopt 40 years ago.
In a recent interview, DEC Commissioner Joe Martens claimed that its newly proposed rules for LNG have nothing to do with fracking. This suggests a willful disconnect from reality. Although for now New Yorkers can breathe a sigh of relief that Gov. Andrew Cuomo has not permitted fracking, the promotion of LNG increases the threat that this dirty technique for extracting gas from shale may one day come to our state.
Martens’ misleading comments do not end there. The commissioner and his agency have emphasized that the proposed rules for liquefied natural gas are intended for truck refueling stations. But that’s not what the draft regulations say.
As presently written, there is no restriction in the proposed rules on the type, size or location of LNG facilities that could be built. In fact, the DEC’s Regulatory Impact Statement says that if these regulations move forward, the range of LNG facilities appearing in our state could include import/export terminals, peak shaving plants (where natural gas is liquefied, stored, and then vaporized to be sent to a gas grid), regional LNG production facilities, LNG plants with pipeline access, and even facilities to produce LNG next to gas wells.
Granted, DEC has said that within the first five years, most of the permits it would “likely” issue are for truck refueling stations. That is little consolation for those of us who plan to be here for more than five years or have children whose future — hopefully not one indelibly shackled to fossil fuel — lies in the hands of decision-makers today.
Nor is it any consolation that DEC has said recently that the proposed rules might “not apply” to production plants. As written, the proposed rules give DEC regulatory authority over LNG storage, and storage tanks are part of virtually all production facilities. Therefore, if regulations are adopted, large industrial LNG production plants may very well become part of New York’s landscape.
It is high time for DEC to level with New Yorkers about its plans for natural gas, including LNG. It is also crucial that Martens not forget the reason LNG is prohibited today is because of that tragic explosion on Staten Island 40 years ago. Like fracking, liquefied natural gas is dangerous.
The DEC should end deceptive statements about what its proposed regulations would do and stop trying to dismiss the impacts of LNG proliferation. If the department’s interest is limited to small-scale fueling stations as has been stated, then it should withdraw its woefully vague rules and start over.
Keith Schue is a former engineer with experience in environmental, regulatory and policy review. He lives in Cherry Valley.