Trash-to-Gas Is the New Farm-to-Table: National Grid Banks on Waste in Greenpoint

newtown creek greenpoint fart factory

In a weird privatized-utility remix of the nitrogen cycle, National Grid hopes to reap natural gas from the process of waste treatment overseen by New York City’s Department of Environmental Protection in Greenpoint. National Grid’s proposed plan is to harness the gas waste produced by the processing of solid and liquid waste, then sell it back to customers in New York City as natural gas. If all goes to plan, we’ll be buying our own shit back from National Grid by September 2016.

If this reminds you at all of Fight Club, with Tyler Durden making boutique soap out of liposuctioned fat and “selling rich women their own fat asses back to them,” I can’t say I’d disagree with you.

The Greenpoint plan, lovingly dubbed “Greenpoint’s fart factory” by the Brooklyn Paper, would be an environmental boon but potentially a double- or triple-dip for the agencies involved: New Yorkers will be funding the Department of Environmental Protection’s waste management sites with tax dollars, creating waste to be processed, then paying for the privilege of using the gas collected from…our gas. Meanwhile, let’s not forget how Newtown Creek came to be the Gowanus of the north.

Whether the fart factory will succeed in becoming a National Grid money factory remains to be seen, pending design and approval and all that red tape jazz. New York City could stand as a shining example to other cities—indeed, a fart factory on a hill. But hey, it beats fracking!

Follow John Sherman on Twitter @_john_sherman.

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