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NYC's Wasteland of Windfalls

Extracting energy and getting exercise at Staten Island's Fresh Kills Landfill.

Public parks aren't usually cash cows, not unless they get advertising or become, well, private. But the park that sits on top of the old Fresh Kills Landfill on Staten Island is different. It won’t initially open for at least another three years, and its full opening won’t be until around 2030. But it’s already making the City of New York a cool $12 million a year.

It’s a gas. Methane to be exact. By harvesting the stuff that’s slowly belching out of what was once the largest garbage dump in history, the Sanitation Department is producing enough energy to heat approximately 22,000 homes. That energy will be sold to National Grid until the gas has been depleted, at which point it will be burned off at flare stations across the park.

We’ve drawn energy from the land for millennia. But these days, that land is often far away – coal mountains, nuclear plants, offshore turbines. And it’s usually not the kind of land that we like to luxuriate on. Freshkills is the opposite: it’s a place for playing, for hiking and birdwatching and biking and horseback riding. Kayaking even. And also for producing energy.

Read the rest over at Motherboard.