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POLITICO New York Energy, presented by Nuclear Matters: Cuomo's contrasting water warnings; trash fight escalates

By David Giambusso and Scott Waldman

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ALARM AT INDIAN POINT, CALM IN HOOSICK FALLS — POLITICO New York’s Scott Waldman: It was a tale of two cautionary responses. On Saturday, Gov. Andrew Cuomo issued a rare weekend public statement to warn New Yorkers the water around the Indian Point nuclear facility had “alarming levels of radioactivity.” He ordered yet another state investigation of Indian Point and said the release of radioactive tritium-contaminated water leaked into the groundwater at the facility was another reason the plant should close.

Two days later, in Albany, Cuomo cautioned against a rush to judgment on the water pollution in Hoosick Falls. The governor said he wanted to wait for more “facts” and cautioned that banks should not be withholding the writing of mortgages until more results had been returned. He said he was waiting for another round of water well tests to come back, even though earlier rounds already proved toxic levels of a chemical linked to cancer was in the water. Cuomo claimed the state would be “overprotective” in Hoosick Falls and chided people who would let emotions get “ahead of facts.” http://politi.co/1LfkxpO

--Senate Majority Leader John Flanagan said he was open to legislative hearings on the state’s response to Hoosick Falls, after the problems have been solved. http://politi.co/20Jynx4

--Flanagan also broke with the governor on the future of Indian Point, which he thinks should stay open. http://politi.co/1RnttQn

NEW GROUP FORMS IN CITY TRASH WARS — POLITICO New York’s David Giambusso: A new coalition of private waste carters has formed to fight a battle over potential changes to how commercial trash is collected in New York City. The group, New Yorkers For Responsible Waste Management, is a coalition of nine, smaller private carting companies based in and around the city. Their goal is to protect the interests of smaller carting companies as a debate stirs on how private trash collection is regulated in New York. http://politi.co/20n6AwQ

** 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 NuclearMatters.com. **

AROUND NEW YORK:

--The state is contributing $500,000 to monitor Lake George. http://bit.ly/1T5ddDu

--Flooding was bad in NYC: One assistant professor at the Stevens Institute of Technology says the city was hit with the worst flooding event since Hurricane Sandy. http://bit.ly/20nfk62

--Carnegie Deli is back: After a 10-month shutdown by Con Ed over an illegal gas hookup, the iconic New York deli is back in business, the Post reports. http://nyp.st/20ngleB

--The Black Oak wind farm president defends the project, which would partner with Cornell University. http://bit.ly/1PB6U61

--SolarCity missed its installation targets for the quarter, possibly because of low oil prices slowing down renewable growth. http://cnb.cx/1O2a1lo

GOOD WEDNESDAY MORNING: Let us know anytime if you have tips, story ideas or life advice. We're always here at dgiambusso@politico.com and swaldman@politico.com. And if you like this letter, please tell a friend and/or loved one. Here’s a handy sign-up link: politi.co/1UqoEoB

SUPREME COURT STAYS OBAMA’S POWER PLAN — The Wall Street Journal’s Amy Harder and Brent Kendall: “The Supreme Court Tuesday in a divided order blocked a key Obama administration environmental rule to limit carbon emissions from power plants, siding with states and industry groups that wanted the regulation delayed while they challenge its legality. The high court action is an early and potentially significant blow to a cornerstone of President Barack Obama’s climate plan.”http://on.wsj.com/20nfdrm

TRANSMISSION LINE TO CROSS LAKE ERIE — Pittsburgh Post-Gazette’s Daniel Moore: “Transmission lines have been much longer and more ambitious than the 73-mile project proposed by ITC Holdings Corp. But ITC’s line — though relatively short and largely invisible under Lake Erie — would serve as the first link between Canada and the regional power grid spanning Pennsylvania, 12 surrounding states and Washington, D.C. Designed to move 1,000 megawatts of Canadian-produced electricity along the floor of the lake into Erie County, the project would play into the region’s power grid that is shifting to draw on more renewable energy.” http://bit.ly/1KaC9YO

CHEAP GAS — The Associated Press: “For the first time since 2004, U.S. drivers are expected to pay an average of less than $2 a gallon for gasoline, the government said Tuesday. They can thank the huge glut of oil around the globe. The U.S. Energy Information Administration said in its monthly short-term energy outlook that regular gasoline will average $1.98 a gallon nationwide in 2016. The last time oil averaged less than $2 for a full year was 2004, which was also the last time gasoline at stations in some states fell below $1 a gallon.” http://wapo.st/20ngAGx

WHITE HOUSE LEANS TOWARD INDUSTRY IN DRILLING RULES — The Wall Street Journal’s Amy Harder: “The Obama administration is preparing to make a major offshore drilling regulation somewhat more favorable to the oil and natural gas industry, compared to a preliminary proposal issued last year, according to documents reviewed by The Wall Street Journal. The Interior Department last week sent the White House final rules aimed at preventing the kind of explosion that erupted more than five years ago on BP PLC’s Deepwater Horizon rig. The draft rules impose new standards on equipment designed to keep control of a well, and they require real-time monitoring of certain kinds of drilling that are undertaken in deep water or under high pressure.” http://on.wsj.com/1RnGzgu

GE ZEROES IN ON HEADQUARTERS BUILDING — The Boston Globe’s Tim Logan: “In its search for a new home in Boston, General Electric has zeroed in one of the unique corners of Fort Point. The company is taking a hard look at a complex of older buildings where Summer Street meets the Channel, according to several people either involved in the search or who are closely tracking it. The buildings were once home to candy-maker New England Confectionery Co. One curves along Melcher Street, while two smaller buildings are tucked behind on Necco Street. An adjacent parking lot could also provide GE with room for a new building.” http://bit.ly/20ws0Ns

PROFITING FROM DROUGHT: The Atlantic reports that as drought conditions persist in the western United States, hedge fund types are buying up tracts of land that are rich in water supply. The bet is that if water resources in California grow more scarce, privatization will grow more commonplace and the value of water will go through the roof. We at POLITICO New York call it the ‘Mad Max’ theory of drought economics. http://theatln.tc/1PMEHgb

MASS. SRECS CRAP OUT — The Boston Globe’s Jon Chesto: “The state’s solar developers face a surprising new challenge now that a generous incentive for the industry has quietly evaporated. For years, the state has issued what are known as solar renewable energy certificates (SRECS), credits homeowners and businesses earn and can sell when they generate a certain amount of solar power. To control costs, the state restricts the amount of solar power that can be financed in this way, and state officials informed the industry on Friday that the cap has been hit. There was essentially a run on these certificates in recent weeks, as solar panel builders rushed to get in line on behalf of their customers as the cap drew near. Now the question is: What’s next?” http://bit.ly/1PMEYjh

FRIEND OF THE WORKING MINER: Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky has made coal miners a routine prop in his battle with the Obama administration’s clean energy policies. The Washington Post reports McConnell is blocking a measure in Congress that would stay a large miners’ pension fund from insolvency. “McConnell’s office had delivered its own blow to Appalachian coal towns: It blocked efforts to rescue health and pension funds on which thousands of retired and disabled miners rely.” http://wapo.st/20ndGkU

CANADIAN ENERGY COMPANIES LOOK TO U.S. — Bloomberg: “Fortis Inc. and Algonquin Power & Utilities Corp. turned to the U.S. on the same day for their biggest deals ever as Canadian power companies increasingly seek higher returns buying assets south of the border. Fortis’ $6.9 billion cash-and-stock acquisition of power-line operator ITC Holdings Corp. caps $10.4 billion of U.S. purchases by Fortis since 2012. Algonquin agreed Tuesday to pay about $1.5 billion for a Missouri utility. The deals are part of about $60 billion of U.S. utility assets bought by Canadian companies over the past decade, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.” http://bloom.bg/20ngSNC

FUTURES:

--Oil still sliding: The Wall Street Journal reports oversupply is still killing oil futures.

“Light, sweet crude for March delivery settled down $1.75, or 5.9%, at $27.94 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange. It has posted six losing sessions out of the last seven, sinking nearly 16% in that span. Brent, the global benchmark, fell $2.56, or 7.8%, to $30.32 a barrel on ICE Futures Europe. It has lost 13% during a four-session losing streak, its biggest percentage losses in four sessions since the financial crisis.” http://on.wsj.com/1RnFXaG

--Despite cold, natural gas fell on continued concerns about too much supply.

“Futures for March delivery settled down 4.2 cents, or 2%, at $2.098 a million British thermal units on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The retreat ends a two-session winning streak that had brought the largest back-to-back gains in a month, 8.5%, from traders anticipating higher demand for the heating fuel from a burst of cold weather on the way.” http://on.wsj.com/1RnG7Pf

** 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 NuclearMatters.com. **

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