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Legislative Memo

Darren Suarez
Director of Government Affairs
T 518.465.7511, ext. 206
www.bcnys.org

BILL:

S.2823 (O'Mara)

Support

SUBJECT:

Relates to the Transportation of Liquefied Natural and Petroleum Gas

 

DATE:

June 13, 2017

 

The Business Council strongly supports S.2823, which requires Liquefied natural gas (LNG) carriers comply with all applicable federal and state laws, rules and regulations and be conducted by carriers with a hazardous materials safety permit issued by the federal motor carrier safety administration and repeals a requirement that the Department of Transportation (DOT) establish specific routes for the intrastate transportation of LNG. 

Liquefied natural gas (LNG) has become an increasingly important part of the U.S. energy market, and technological advancement in recent years has significantly lowered the cost of liquefaction, shipping, storage and regasification of LNG. Although New York has taken steps to allow LNG, New York State has not taken full advantage of this resource, because of the requirement that DOT establish specific transportation routes.

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.

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 properties of LNG actually makes it less hazardous than some other fuels, such as propane or butane which is 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.

In 2015, the DEC released new regulations that allow the construction and operation of new liquefied natural gas facilities in New York, outside New York City.  Although the regulations removed significant barriers the outdated statutory mandate that applicants identify the routes it will use to transport LNG within the state, and have those routes certified by the DOT remains.  DOT has not and will not identify or approve of transportation routes.

However, the DOT route approval requirements do not apply to the interstate transportation of LNG. Thus, vehicles carrying LNG through the state, or delivering LNG from a location in New York to a location out of state (and vice versa), do not to seek any additional approval from DOT.

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