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DEC adopts most stringent liquefied natural gas regulations


Fri, Jan 30th 2015 05:00 pm

LNG to become available to fuel trucks, potentially reducing diesel emissions

New York's environment will benefit under the nation's most stringent new regulations adopted this week that will make liquefied natural gas available to fuel trucks and for other purposes, New York State Department of Environmental Conservation Commissioner Joe Martens announced. The adopted regulations enable permits to be granted to safely site, construct and operate new LNG facilities under requirements established in a DEC permit. As a result, LNG will be available to haulers as a cleaner burning alternative to diesel fuel.

"New York's new regulations provide the most comprehensive program to safely site, build and operate LNG facilities in the country. By requiring an environmental and safety review for each new facility, New York's environment and economy will benefit from safely providing liquefied natural gas vehicles opportunities to fill up in the state," Martens said. "Natural gas is cleaner to burn, and LNG provides an efficient way to store the fuel for those who normally use, or would like to begin using, natural gas for space heating or other uses."

Projections indicate that, for the first five years, nearly all of the expected permit applications will be for facilities designed to supply fuel for long-haul tractor-trailers and large-capacity fleet trucks that use LNG as a substitute for diesel fuel. LNG offers a lower-cost, cleaner fuel for truckers and an emissions benefit for the environment.

The LNG program will include:

•Evaluation of each permit application on its own merits taking into consideration the proposed location of the facility and tanks and additional siting criteria in the regulation;

•Compliance with the siting requirements in National Fire Protection Association standards, which address setbacks, evacuation issues and tank capacities;

•Reviews of the capabilities and preparedness of local fire departments; and

•Adoption of permit conditions, such as enhancing local response capabilities and greater setbacks, or denial of applications as necessary to ensure safe operation.

The rulemaking sets standards for facilities that store LNG or convert LNG back into a gas for use as fuel. Facility designs must be certified by an independent third party to be in conformance with the standards of the NFPA. These standards have been in wide use nationally and internationally for decades.

DEC's approach under the new regulations also will require site inspections, training of local fire department personnel, the closing of out-of-service LNG storage tanks and prompt spill reporting. The regulations will not change the existing statutory moratorium, which prohibits new LNG facilities within New York City. 

DEC proposed the regulations in September 2013 and received more than 57,000 submissions during the public comment period last year. In response to comments received, DEC issued a revised proposed rule Nov. 12 that limits the total amount of LNG that can be stored at a permitted LNG facility to 70,000 gallons to address concerns about the safety of large facilities. During the public comment period that followed (ending Dec. 4) DEC received approximately 60 comments.

The final rulemaking documents, including the assessment of public comment, are available on DEC's website at http://www.dec.ny.gov/regulations/93069.html.

LNG consists primarily of methane, the same substance in natural gas used to heat homes. LNG should not be confused with liquefied petroleum gas, which is primarily propane.

The Business Council of New York State supported the decision.

"The Business Council of New York State Inc. applauds (the) decision by the Department of Environmental Conservation to allow for the safe siting, construction and operation of liquefied natural gas facilities in the state," said Darren Suarez, director of government affairs for the Business Council of New York State. "As result of this decision, New York will join all other states in the nation in allowing LNG facilities. This decision will bring significant environmental benefits to New Yorkers in the form of reduced carbon emissions. Business will benefit, as well, by being able to take full advantage of cheaper, cleaner burning LNG for use in facilities and vehicles.

"The Business Council thanks ... DEC Commissioner Martens and the staff for persisting with the advancement of the regulations. (The) final decision reverses the wrong course that was set nearly 40 years ago, by reviewing real evidence and rejecting emotional arguments."

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