ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) — New York regulators proposed rules Thursday that would allow new storage and truck fueling stations for liquefied natural gas to be built in the state for the first time since a 1973 explosion that killed 40 workers at a Staten Island storage facility.
The Department of Environmental Conservation said the first permits would likely be issued for smaller facilities supplying fuel to long-haul and fleet trucks that use liquefied natural gas as a cheaper substitute for diesel.
DEC Commissioner Joe Martens said lower emissions from burning liquified natural gas as a fuel instead of diesel "will provide significant benefits to the environment and public health" and will create jobs.
The proposal comes as New York remains under a 5-year-old moratorium on shale gas drilling with hydraulic fracturing that has produced abundant, low-cost natural gas elsewhere in the country.
The state's 1973 moratorium on the siting of new liquefied natural gas storage facilities was lifted in 1999 for all locations except New York City. But DEC hadn't drafted the regulations needed to allow the siting of new facilities until now. The state's only three facilities, all in New York City, were grandfathered in when the moratorium was imposed.
Russ Haven of the New York Public Interest Research Group said he hasn't been able to make a detailed evaluation yet of the proposed regulations, but said it appears the proposal would allow facilities of any size throughout the state and allow more widespread transportation of the fuel. Currently, transportation of liquified natural gas is allowed only on federal highways in New York and on limited local roads.
Public hearings on the regulations have been scheduled for Oct. 16 in Syracuse and Oct. 30 in Albany. Public comments will be taken until Nov. 4.