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DEC has tense hearing over liquid natural gas regulations

Protestors standing outdoors in autumn with homemade signs
Jenna Flanagan
Innovation Trail

Before Wednesday’s public hearing even got underway, opponents of the DEC’s proposed regulations for the storage of Liquid Natural Gas held a rally at Tricentennial Park demanding the new rules be scrapped. Many cited a 1973 explosion of a liquid natural gas storage facility on Staten Island which led to a state- wide moratorium.

Once inside the packed DEC hearing room, opponents and supporters of the legislation engaged in an often tense series of statements for the public record. Despite the moderators request for a polite quiet atmosphere, several statements drew cheers or even snickers from the crowd.

Members of New Yorkers Against Fracking and the New York Public Interest Research Group said the DEC proposal was leaving too much ‘wiggle room’ for the oil and gas industry to put in the infrastructure for fracking.

Common Council member Dominick Calsolaro said the regulations need to be much tighter.

“This regulation to me is one of the weakest vaguest pieces of regulations I’ve ever read. There’s no specifics in it at all.”

Calsolaro also complained about the sudden timing of the public hearing and that it was the only one to be held in Albany. Notice of the hearing went out last Friday and speakers were given 3 minute time limits.

Business leaders also attended to support what they said were perfectly sound and fair regulations.

They emphasized the hearing was not about fracking, but about adopting the necessary regulations to allow New York to operate small fueling stations for liquid natural gas.

Many said the measures would support the use of an affordable and clean burning fuel that would benefit New York’s economy and environment.

Darren Suarez, of the Business Council for the State of New York says he understands the community concerns, but wants people to keep them in perspective.

“I think there are some things that are just sort of, that are details that are very small details that haven’t been entirely worked out.”

The DEC has extended its written public comment period on the proposed regulations through to end of business day on December 4th. DEC staff will then review all of the comments and determine whether or not changes to the current restrictions are warranted.

If you’d like to see the DEC’s proposed regulations on liquid natural gas, visit their website at dec.ny.gov/regulations.

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