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POLITICO New York Energy, presented by Nuclear Matters: Coal plants' new life; pipeline review

By David Giambusso and Scott Waldman

Good morning! Only POLITICO New York Pro subscribers receive an enhanced version of this email at 5:30 a.m. each weekday. If you'd like to receive it, along with a customized real-time news feed of New York energy policy news throughout the day, please contact us at and we'll set you up for trial access. Thank you for reading.

COAL PLANTS’ NEW LIFE — POLITICO New York’s Scott Waldman: Two of the state's four remaining coal plants, both of which are struggling financially and facing closure, may get a new lease on life. Riesling Power LLC, a company affiliated with the Blackstone Group, a multi-billion-dollar global private equity and investment firm, is requesting state approval to purchase the Cayuga power plant near Ithaca and the Somerset power plant in Western New York.

DEC, THRUWAY TO CONDUCT PIPELINE REVIEW — POLITICO New York’s Scott Waldman: The state Department of Environmental Conservation will review an application for a proposed pipeline that would run along the state New York State Thruway from Albany into to New Jersey. Last month, developers of the 178-mile Pilgrim pipeline submitted permit applications with the Thruway Authority. However, environmental and community groups immediately raised questions over the plan and requested that the DEC act as the lead state agency, since its employees have the most expertise in pipeline reviews.

** A Message from Nuclear Matters: Providing more than 61 percent of New York’s carbon-free electricity, nuclear energy plants play a vital role in achieving our clean-energy and carbon-reduction goals. New York’s nuclear energy fleet supports about 18,000 jobs and provides $2.5 billion to the state’s GDP. Learn more at **

IS ANYTHING HAPPENING TODAY? If you have energy and environment-related events you’d like to announce, we’re all ears here at POLITICO New York.


--Prominent New York-based anti-fracking advocate Mark Ruffalo penned an op-ed for the Guardian on the need to go 100 percent renewable as soon as possible.

--Meet the Eastern Hellbender, the endangered giant salamanders that live in Adirondack streams.

--Neighbors are pushing back against seven wind turbines proposed for an area near Ithaca.

--An opinion piece in the Steuben Courier Advocate suggests Crestwood Equity Partners’ deteriorating financial condition means its plan to put a propane storage in the Finger Lakes should be put on hold.

--A diverse group of environmental, business and community groups is requesting that the state budget include an infusion of funds for the Environmental Protection Fund.

--Entergy employees facing the loss of their jobs are asking the the company’s well-paid CEO to show them some mercy.

--The state Senate energy chairman is considering a run for Congress.

--State of Politics looks at the fracking ban, one year in.

--Santa in chains: Protesters dressed as Santa Claus and his elves were arrested outside the Crestwood gas storage facility near Seneca Lake, EcoWatch reports. Obviously, the real Santa could not be arrested owing to magical powers, though it is important to note reindeer energy is 100 percent renewable.

GOOD TUESDAY MORNING : Let us know anytime if you have tips, story ideas or life advice. We're always here at and And if you like this letter, please tell a friend and/or loved one. Here’s a handy sign-up link:

HOW OBAMA ALLOWED DRILLING IN ALASKAN WILDERNESS — ProPublica’s Alec Macgillis for POLITICO: “As environmentalists, energy companies and politicians brawled over big symbols like the Keystone XL pipeline and offshore drilling in the Arctic Ocean, the more immediate battles over climate change and fossil fuels were being waged over projects like Greater Mooses Tooth — out of the public eye, away from the cable-news shout fests and White House protests. The fight was unfolding in the real Washington — where influence accrues across election cycles almost without regard to who’s in power. In this Washington, companies bend decisions of major import in their direction by overwhelming a bureaucracy that, after years of budget cuts, outsourcing and inattention, lacks the resources and morale to hold its own. Increasingly, industry spins the revolving door.”

ZERO AS A CLIMATE GOAL — Vox’s David Roberts: “Zero is a much more compelling and evocative goal than the longer-standing and better-established climate goal of limiting temperature rise to 2 degrees or less. The 2 degrees target has the advantage of being ‘science-based,’ at least insofar as science is capable of putting a hard number on the amount of warming that qualifies as ‘dangerous.’ But it is difficult to explain to the uninitiated. It doesn't sound like much extra heat, even when you translate it to Fahrenheit (3.6 degrees). It's not a target you want to achieve, but a threshold you want to avoid, which makes it difficult to talk about aspirationally.”

THE LION SLEEPS TONIGHT — The New York Times: "Five months after a lion named Cecil was shot and killed in Zimbabwe by a Minnesota dentist, the Obama administration has decided to place lions in Africa under the protection of the Endangered Species Act, an action that will set a higher bar for hunters who want to bring lion trophies into the United States. Lions in central and West Africa will be listed as endangered, according to the Fish and Wildlife Service, which announced the change on Monday."

CHEVRON LINES UP CHINESE LNG BUYER — The Wall Street Journal: “Chevron Corp. has lined up a Chinese buyer for natural gas from its multibillion-dollar developments in northwestern Australia, helping shore up their commercial health as crude-oil prices hit multiyear lows. Chevron said it had signed a nonbinding agreement with China Huadian Green Energy Co., a subsidiary of state-owned power company China Huadian Group, to supply up to 1 million metric tons of liquefied natural gas a year over 10 years.”

ARCTIC METHANE — The Washington Post’s Chelsea Harvey: “Arctic permafrost has become a recent star in the climate change conversation, capturing the attention of scientists, activists and policymakers alike because of its ability to emit large quantities of carbon dioxide as well as methane — a particularly potent though relatively short-lived greenhouse gas — when it thaws.”

BUFFET BEATS SOLAR IN NEVADA — Bloomberg’s Mark Chediak and Noah Buhayar: “It’s about to get more expensive for homeowners to go solar in Nevada. The state’s public utilities commission filed Monday a draft order that would reduce the credits that customers get when they sell power back to the grid.”

EXXON’S CARBON POSITION: InsideClimate News, which recently broke a major story alleging Exxon’s complicity in a climate cover-up, examines statements by Rex Tillerson, the company’s CEO, advocating for a carbon tax. Despite the rhetoric, the news outlet finds, Exxon has been hostile to the idea. "[Exxon] refused to sign on to a letter from other international oil giants, including Royal Dutch Shell and BP, that strongly urged the Paris climate negotiators to push for a global price on carbon."

OBAMA: REPUBLICANS WILL CHANGE ON CLIMATE: In a wide ranging interview with NPR’s Steve Inskeep, President Obama said the Clean Power Plan would give more weight to a clean energy economy that’s already gaining in strides. Once the economies scale up, he said, Republicans will feel better about the Clean Power Plan. “Well, they oppose, but it's under the Clean Air Act and we are confident that it's within our power. I think that the signal that we are sending to the private sector, that will in turn invest heavily in solar and wind and battery technologies, the doubling of fuel efficiency standards on cars, all these things start taking on a momentum of their own.”

VA SOLAR GOALS — The Washington Post’s Jenna Portnoy: “Gov. Terry McAuliffe announced Monday that Virginia must use solar energy to help power state government. As a way to jumpstart the solar industry in the commonwealth, McAuliffe said state office buildings will derive 8 percent of their energy from solar sources in the next three years. The utility giant Dominion Virginia Power will generate 75 percent of the solar energy, some of which will come from panels installed on state property. McAuliffe said the plan is “a hedge against price volatility in coal and natural gas” and will increase the state’s reliance on the zero-emissions renewable energy in compliance with the federal Clean Power Plan.”


--Oil got whooped Monday: The Wall Street Journal reports prices hit lows not seen since 2004, as a continued global supply glut eviscerates the value of oil.

“Brent, the global benchmark, fell 53 cents, or 1.4%, to $36.35 a barrel on ICE Futures Europe, the lowest settlement since July 5, 2004. It has lost ground in 16 of the past 18 sessions. Light, sweet crude for January delivery gained 1 cent, or 0.03%, to $34.74 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Prices had dipped as low as $33.98 a barrel, the lowest intraday price since Feb. 13, 2009.”

--Natural gas got a boost: It seems eventually winter is coming, and that boosted gas futures.

“Prices for the front-month January contract settled up 14.4 cents, or 8.1%, at $1.911 a million British thermal units on the New York Mercantile Exchange.”

** A Message from Nuclear Matters: Some of America’s existing nuclear energy plants face early closure due to current economic and policy conditions. Providing more than 62% of America’s carbon-free electricity, existing, state-of-the-art nuclear energy plants play a vital role in achieving our clean-energy and carbon-reduction goals.

In New York, nuclear energy plants provide 31 percent of the state’s electricity and 61 percent of our carbon-free electricity. The existing nuclear energy plants in New York also support about 18,000 jobs and provide $2.5 billion to the state’s GDP.

If we want to keep New York working, we need policies that will keep New York’s state-of-the-art nuclear energy plants working for all of us. Join us at **

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