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POLITICO New York Energy: Pollution-suit bill; Brooklyn eyed for offshore wind base

By David Giambusso and Scott Waldman

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NEW BILL WOULD MAKE IT EASIER TO SUE OVER POLLUTION HEALTH EFFECTS — POLITICO New York’s Scott Waldman: A new bill would make it easier to file for personal injury claims related to state and federal Superfund sites like Hoosick Falls. A bipartisan trio of Albany-area lawmakers proposed legislation Wednesday that would raise the statute of limitations in cases where exposure to toxic chemicals or other pollution has caused health issues. It would expand the statute of limitations to within three years of the discovery of a health issue, within three years of when the injury should have been discovered or within three years of a site’s designation as a Superfund site — whichever is latest.

--Gov. Andrew Cuomo said Wednesday that he will travel to Hoosick Falls within the next few weeks, after a temporary water treatment system is installed.

--A New York City law firm has brought a federal class-action lawsuit against the companies responsible for the pollution in Hoosick Falls.

BROOKLYN EYED FOR OFFSHORE WIND BASE — Bloomberg’s Joe Ryan and David Levitt: “Deepwater Wind LLC, the company building the only U.S. offshore wind farm, is looking at a Brooklyn waterfront site as a staging ground as it pursues a potential project off the south shore of Long Island, according to a person familiar with the negotiations. Securing the waterfront site, the South Brooklyn Marine Terminal, would be Deepwater’s first step toward building the wind farm that would generate clean power for New York City, according to the person, who asked not to be identified because the negotiations are private.”

KALOYEROS NO LONGER ON SUNY POLY REAL ESTATE BOARDS — Albany Business Review’s Marie French: “Alain Kaloyeros is no longer a board member of the two nonprofits supporting the activities of the university he leads. Kaloyeros is the founding president of SUNY Polytechnic Institute in Albany. Until January, he was a director at both Fuller Road Management Corp. and Fort Schuyler Management Corp., according to Fuller Road president and Fort Schuyler chairman Walter G. "Jerry" Barber. When the State University of New York's board of trustees approved SUNY Poly's independence in 2014, the SUNY Polytechnic Foundation replaced the University at Albany Foundation as one of the member organizations of Fuller Road and Fort Schuyler, spokesman Jerry Gretzinger said in an email. Those member organizations appoint board members to Fuller Road and Fort Schuyler.”

COUNCIL PASSES SOLAR BILL — POLITICO New York’s David Giambusso: It took a little negotiating, but a bill to require the city to examine its own building stock for solar installations passed the City Council without opposition Wednesday. The bill (Intro. 478) originally required the city to examine all the structures it owns and report on their viability for solar power. Where it proved economical, the city would have been required to install solar. During hearings for the legislation, Mayor Bill de Blasio's administration said that, as written, the requirements would be too onerous and would not necessarily yield the most energy efficient results.”


--Opponents of oil trains are asking the state Department of Environmental Conservation to analyze the effects of crude oil terminals at the Port of Albany on a nearby minority and low-income community.

--Assembly hears concerns about e-waste: POLITICO New York’s Kassie Parisi reports that local officials and representatives of the recycling industry believe the state's electronic waste collection program needs to be revamped in order to better dispose of the amount of e-waste that the state produces. They spoke at a public hearing on the issue on Wednesday.

--“New York State's comptroller and four other ExxonMobil shareholders asked the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission this week to force the oil producer to include a climate change resolution in its annual shareholder proxy, according to a filing seen by Reuters.”

--A trade group claims the Public Service Commission’s new regulations on energy service companies could effectively kill the market.

--The EPA announced a new plan to clean up Long Island Sound, the New Haven Register reports.

--Ten reasons New York is greener than California.

--State Senator Patty Ritchie is not ready to place blame on the state Department of Transportation for water contamination in the town of Orleans.

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FRACKING BATTLE MOVES TO FLORIDA — The New York Times’ Lizette Alvarez: “With geology akin to a wet sponge and fragile underground aquifers that supply almost all its drinking water, Florida has never been considered part of the agitated battle over fracking as a technology for extracting oil and gas. But that began to change two years ago when a Texas-based oil and gas company was found to have been using hydraulic fracturing, known as fracking, and matrix acidizing, a fracking-like method that dissolves rocks with acid instead of fracturing them with pressurized liquid. Neither residents nor local governments knew about it because well stimulation, the catch-all term for both techniques, does not require a separate permit and is not regulated.”

ELECTRIC WATER HEATERS INCREASINGLY IMPORTANT TO GRID — The Washington Post’s Chris Mooney: “New research suggests that in the future, one of the most lowly, boring, and ubiquitous of home appliances — the electric water heater — could come to perform a surprising array of new functions that help out the power grid, and potentially even save money on home electricity bills to boot. The idea is that these water heaters in the future will increasingly become ‘grid interactive,’ communicating with local utilities or other coordinating entities, and thereby providing services to the larger grid by modulating their energy use, or heating water at different times of the day.”

GAS INDUSTRY SLOW ON METHANE CUTS — Reuters: “The head of the U.S. natural gas industry group responsible for persuading companies to voluntarily report their methane emissions says he has not seen — and does not expect to see — a high number of companies participating in the program. ‘Right now I will say that market forces kind of militate against a ton of people jumping-up to be proactive,’ said Tom Michels, executive director of One Future, a coalition of companies from across the natural gas sector that aims to self-regulate methane emissions.”

FLINT RESURRECTS WATER COMMISSIONS — The Associated Press: “Democratic lawmakers from Flint and Detroit said Wednesday they have proposed restoring environmental oversight commissions that they think could have helped prevent the public health crisis in Flint, where lead contaminated the water supply. Sponsors of a bill package that would restore commissions to oversee the Department of Environmental Quality said during a news conference that the commissions would help curtail future lead-contamination crises.”

GASOLINE GLUT ANOTHER THREAT TO OIL — The Wall Street Journal’s Nicole Friedman and Alison Sider: “Refineries in the U.S. Midwest are losing their thirst for oil, posing a new risk for the battered crude market. The Midwest accounts for nearly a quarter of the crude processed in the U.S. and is home to shale producers that have few other outlets for their oil. But refiners there are already swimming in gasoline and other fuel, forcing them to cut back production until the excess can be worked off.”

MARYLAND PSC GRILLED BY SUPREME COURT — POLITICO’s Darius Dixon: Supreme Court justices tore into a Maryland program aimed at promoting new power generation on Wednesday, putting lawyers for the state on the defensive. The arguments over the combined cases of Hughes v. Talen Energy Marketing and CPV Maryland v. Talen Energy Marketing concern an order from state regulators that offered power plant developers payments based on levels set in the PJM wholesale market auctions, which critics say overstepped the state's jurisdiction by interfering in the wholesale markets that are under FERC's authority.

CHENIERE TO SHIP FIRST BATCH OF LNG — Bloomberg: “Cheniere Energy Inc. [was expected] to ship the first cargo of liquefied natural gas on Wednesday to Brazil, with another tanker to be loaded a few days later, marking the historic start of U.S. shale gas exports and boosting its shares to the highest level in a month. The Asia Vision tanker will carry the first shipment of LNG from the company’s Sabine Pass terminal in Louisiana, Meg Gentle, president of Cheniere’s marketing unit, said at the IHS CERAWeek energy conference in Houston.”

OIL PAIN HITS THE SMALLEST OF THE SMALL — The New York Times’ Clifford Krauss: “The plunging price of crude has inflicted pain in the Oklahoma oil patch, and now it is threatening to take out the smallest of the small operators, those that have survived decades of booms and busts. Moran Oil Enterprises is losing $5 on every one of the 205 barrels it produces every day, forcing it to borrow $30,000 this month to meet a payroll that includes 24 employees and contractors.”

WELLS FARGO SETS ASIDE $1.2B FOR OIL LOSSES — Market Watch: “Wells Fargo & Co. set aside $1.2 billion in reserves for potential losses tied to oil and gas loans, according to a securities filing. About 10% of Wells Fargo’s total loan-loss reserves are related to oil and gas, even though those loans account for about 2% of its overall loan portfolio, the filing said.”


--Oil inches higher: Oil erased losses early in the day ending slightly higher, the Wall Street Journal reports.

“Light, sweet crude for April delivery settled up 28 cents, or 0.9% to $32.15 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Brent, the global benchmark, rose $1.14, or 3.4%, to $34.41 a barrel on ICE Futures Europe.”

--Natural gas slips: Stockpiles show a continued surplus in U.S. supplies.

"Futures for March delivery settled down 0.4 cent, or 0.2%, to $1.778 a million British thermal units on the New York Mercantile Exchange. That is the lowest level since Dec. 18. Prices are less than 3 cents above the 16-year settlement low hit in December."

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