Liquefied natural gas: The city must choose a side
Loading facility for LNG trucks planned at Greenpoint
Fifteen elected officials, led by City Councilmember Jennifer Gutiérrez, Assemblymember Maritza Davila, Senator Julia Salazar, and Congressmember Nydia Velázquez, sent a letter to Mayor Eric Adams recently asking him to announce that the City of New York will never grant an “emergency” variance allowing National Grid to truck dangerous Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) through their districts.
LNG storage facilities have been banned in NYC since 1976, following a tragic explosion at a Staten Island LNG facility in 1973 that killed 40 workers. The NYC Fire Code prohibits the filling and transport of LNG through City streets.
National Grid’s proposed trucking route would transport volatile LNG along interstate 95, Throgs Neck Expressway, Throgs Neck Bridge, Clearview Expressway, Long Island Expressway, and Brooklyn Queens Expressway — all highly trafficked highways running through densely populated areas— to Vandervoort Avenue in Brooklyn, where the Company has a massive LNG storage facility that was built before the 1976 ban (map below).
Since 2013, National Grid has unsuccessfully sought to obtain a Fire Code exception (that is, a general variance) from the City of New York to fill and truck LNG through City streets. In December 2020, the Company decided to proceed with construction of a $27 million LNG Truck Load/Unload Station at its Greenpoint facility, despite multiple failed attempts to obtain this general variance.
National Grid now plans to seek an LNG trucking variance from the City on an “emergency,” case-by-case basis as a means to evade any form of environmental review.
“I have been adamant that at a time when the climate crisis looms large, building pipelines is not the answer,” said Velázquez. “We cannot allow National Grid to penetrate our communities by trucking LNG into the five boroughs. Not only is this process extremely dangerous, it is the last thing our environment needs right now. I’m proud to stand with my fellow elected officials to implore Mayor Adams to announce that the City of New York will not allow National Grid to truck LNG into our streets.”
“Liquified Natural Gas trucking and storage is dangerous and it poses an acute threat to anyone in its vicinity. My constituents are already impacted by issues of environmental justice, and National Grid’s attempts to evade the legal protections put in place to protect New Yorkers add insult to injury,” said Council Member Jennifer Gutiérrez. “New Yorkers have already made their voices clear: after the 1973 Staten Island LNG explosion that tragically took the lives of 40 workers, we would never permit this to happen again. LNG trucking and storage is banned for a reason, and I am calling on Mayor Adams to uphold his campaign promises of protecting New Yorkers and the environment. The City of New York should never grant an “emergency” variance to enable profiteering that is, in fact, not an emergency.”
“We urge Mayor Adams to heed the community’s call for action on this LNG facility,” said State Senator Julia Salazar. “Liquid Natural Gas is a volatile substance that is illegal on our streets. If the Mayor truly prioritizes public safety, then let’s make sure that same energy and diligence exists when talking about Nat Grid’s LNG facility transporting its deadly substance up and down the streets of New York.”
“We are calling for a complete halt to the Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) Vaporizers and trucking and urge Mayor Adams and our leaders in all levels of government to do the same. LNG poses a humongous threat to our neighborhoods within the five boroughs and can lead to a kaleidoscope of issues that can be detrimental and in retrospect catastrophic to our environment. We need to implement an alternative solution that relies on renewable energy that is eco-friendly. The fight for clean energy will not end until we reach environmental justice,” said Assemblywoman Maritza Dávila.
“By seeking so-called emergency variances to truck LNG through City streets, National Grid is attempting to end-run the State Environmental Quality Review Act,” said Ruhan Nagra, Director of the Environmental Justice Initiative at the University Network for Human Rights and lead counsel on behalf of Sane Energy Project and Cooper Park Resident Council in an ongoing lawsuit challenging National Grid’s LNG trucking plans. “If the City of New York were to grant National Grid any emergency variances in the future, the City would be both putting environmental justice communities at grave risk and sanctioning an alarming circumvention of the law.”
“LNG trucking on New York City streets is illegal for a reason. It’s dangerous and National Grid should never be granted a loophole to skirt public safety law. We thank the elected officials along the proposed route who are standing up today to protect their constituents, and we ask the Mayor to join them,” said Lee Ziesche, Sane Energy Project. “National Grid should never be allowed to truck LNG on our streets, and we should never have to pay for the multimillion dollar trucking station that National Grid brazenly built without permission to use.”
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