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Legislative Memo

Darren Suarez
Director of Government Affairs
T 518.465.7511
www.bcnys.org

BILL:

S.5846-A (Maziarz)

  Support

SUBJECT:

Liquefied natural gas (LNG)

 

S.5846-A (Maziarz)

DATE:

June 19, 2013

 

The Business Council strongly supports S.5846-A, this legislation amends section 23-1706 of the environmental conservation law that no later than December thirty-first, two thousand thirteen, that the Department of Environmental Conservation adopt, and file regulations establishing criteria for the siting of liquefied natural and petroleum gas facilities (LNG). Additionally, the legislation removes burdensome administrative provisions.

Liquefied natural gas (LNG) has become an increasingly important part of the U.S. energy market, and technological advancement in recent years have significantly lowered the cost of liquefication, shipping, storage and regasification of LNG. Unfortunately, New York State has not taken full advantage of this resource or made LNG a key component of its long-term energy strategy.

A 1973 fire at an LNG storage facility on Staten Island, which caused the death of forty people, was the primary motivating factor in the adoption of a statewide LNG moratorium in 1978 that persisted for over 20 years. The moratorium eventually lapsed in 1999, though it persists in the five boroughs of NYC. The statewide moratorium stunted the growth of LNG as an alternative fuel to the point where New York State is currently the only state without a law or regulations on the siting of new LNG facilities.

LNG, is the same natural gas that we use in our homes for heating and cooling - except that it is condensed natural gas into a liquid. To become a liquid it is cooled to approximately 260 degrees Fahrenheit below zero (or minus 162 degrees Centigrade) at atmospheric pressure. The liquefying process removes impurities found in typical pipeline gas resulting in a LNG composition of mostly methane with small amounts of other hydrocarbons and nitrogen.

If LNG is spilled, the resulting LNG vapor will warm, become lighter than air and disperse with the prevailing wind. Although LNG is colorless, should it be released into the air, the cold vapor would appear as a white cloud. The lighter-than-air property of LNG actually makes it less hazardous than some other fuels, such as propane or butane which are heavier than air and tend to settle closer to the ground.

In gaseous form, LNG vapor can burn only if it is released into the air and mixes with the correct proportion of air (5 to 15 percent). Too little air, and there is not enough oxygen to sustain a flame, too much air and the natural gas is diluted too much to ignite.

The current State barriers to LNG downstream applications, have limited consumers energy choices. Elsewhere LNG has competed effectively with diesel fuel on a cost-per-energy-content (BTU) basis. Specifically, reductions in fueling and operational costs for transportation have been calculated at $1-3 dollars per diesel equivalent gallon depending on source of LNG fuel supply.

Driven by the price advantages, the use of LNG fuel is increasing rapidly for long-haul trucks; delivery fleets; buses; ships, barges and ferries; railroad locomotives; and construction and mining equipment.

In addition to the economic benefits of LNG, fuel switching can result in air quality improvements through substantial emission reductions (Sulfur Dioxide, Nitrogen Oxides, Non-Methane Organic Compounds, Particulates, and Carbon Monoxide).

For these reasons, The Business Council urges enactment of this bill.