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POLITICO New York Energy: AGs announce climate coalition; Hudson River dispute

By David Giambusso and Scott Waldman

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FEDERAL AGENCIES IN DISPUTE OVER HUDSON CLEANUP — POLITICO New York’s Scott Waldman: Federal agencies are at odds over the cleanup of PCBs in the Hudson River. Last Friday, the federal trustees tasked with overseeing the river’s health, along with the state Department of Environmental Conservation, determined that the cleanup of PCBs dumped by General Electric into the Hudson River was inadequate. “PCBs released from GE facilities on the Upper Hudson River present a serious and long-term threat to the health of the entire Hudson River ecosystem that warrants continued study and further action to restore and compensate for the injured natural resources and the services that have been lost,” they wrote. “Because of concerns about the contamination and its potential impact, the Hudson River Natural Resource Trustees are continuing to assess the Hudson River ecosystem.”

CUOMO: AGING BOLTS AT INDIAN POINT SHOWS FACILITY FLAWS — POLITICO New York’s Scott Waldman: Gov. Andrew Cuomo on Tuesday used another incident at the Indian Point nuclear facility to make the case that the facility should be closed. An inspection of the plant revealed aging on some of the bolts used in one of plants. Hundreds of bolts warrant further inspection. The state will continue its investigation of Indian Point’s safety while ensuring that the bolt issue is immediately addressed, Cuomo said.

A DEAL ON ELECTRIC CARS? — Buffalo News’ Tom Precious: “Beyond the major items, a host of under-the-radar issues were still under wraps. Negotiators are said to be close on a deal to provide state-funded rebates to consumers who buy zero-emission vehicles, or ZEVs, such as electric cars. One number being discussed Tuesday is a $2,000-per-car rebate. The sides also are looking to use part of the state’s Environmental Protection Fund for more infrastructure spending on such things as battery recharging stations. The Buffalo News recently quoted the top air quality official in California, as well as environmental advocates in New York, saying that the Cuomo administration had to step up initiatives to encourage zero-emission vehicle sales if it is to meet the goals of a pact Cuomo made with other states for the purchase of a certain number of zero-emission vehicles by 2025.”

ATTORNEYS GENERAL UNITE ON CLIMATE CHANGE — POLITICO New York’s Scott Waldman: Massachusetts and the Virgin Islands have joined Attorney General Eric Schneiderman’s investigation into whether ExxonMobil misled the public about climate change, Schneiderman said Tuesday, as he announced a coalition with 16 attorneys general to address climate change challenges at a one-day conference in New York City. Seventeen top lawyers, including those for Washington, D.C., and the U.S. Virgin Islands, are exploring a collaboration to address legal questions surrounding energy companies and what they may have known of climate change. “We are pursuing this as we would any other fraud matter: You have to tell the truth. You can’t make misrepresentations of the kind we’ve seen here,” Schneiderman said at a press conference announcing the initiative, along with other attorneys general and environmental activist and former Vice President Al Gore.”


--The SolarCity contractor has hired a top lobbying firm in Albany.

--The New York Power Authority is distributing more cheap power to maintain jobs.

--Several key groups looking to tackle the city's building emissions challenges have launched a "boot camp" for building managers and engineers to get them trained on the most current sustainability practices for city buildings.

--The Ticonderoga Central School District to spend $70,000 to purchase property for a solar project.

--An opinion piece in the New York Post looks at the challenges of siting wind projects upstate.

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JAIL URGED FOR MASSEY EXEC — The New York Times’ Alan Blinder: “A federal prosecutor has urged a judge in West Virginia to sentence Donald L. Blankenship, who was chief executive of Massey Energy Company when 29 workers were killed in a mine explosion, to the maximum of a year in jail for conspiring to violate safety standards. Lawyers for Mr. Blankenship, whom a jury convicted of a misdemeanor charge in December, asked Judge Irene C. Berger of Federal District Court in Charleston to impose a far less severe punishment of a fine and probation. Mr. Blankenship was not tried on any charges that accused him of direct responsibility for the 2010 deaths at Upper Big Branch mine, which investigators said exploded because of improper ventilation that allowed gases to accumulate..”

PERMITS STILL PENDING FOR ATLANTIC DRILLING — The Associated Press: “While drilling for oil and natural gas in the Atlantic is off the table for now, permits are still pending that could allow seismic surveys to map just how much might be out there. Eight companies currently have survey applications before the federal Bureau of Ocean Energy Management. Environmental groups are concerned that loud sounds from seismic air guns will hurt marine life. The advocacy group Oceana released maps Tuesday showing areas where permits are being sought and where they overlap crucial marine habitat.”

SUNEDISON NOSEDIVES AFTER SEC PROBE NEWS — The Los Angeles Times: “SunEdison Inc., a leading solar-power company saddled with nearly $10 billion of long-term debt, is at risk of filing for bankruptcy protection, one of SunEdison’s affiliates said Tuesday. SunEdison also reportedly is being investigated by the Securities and Exchange Commission over whether the company might have overstated to investors how much cash it had on hand in November. In response to both developments, SunEdison’s already battered stock plunged further to less than $1 a share. The stock was down 69 cents, or 55%, to 57 cents a share in afternoon trading in New York.”

EDISON TO START CONSULTANCY FIRM — The New York Times’ Diane Cardwell: “Betting that the future of the power industry lies in selling far more than just energy, Edison International, parent to one of the nation’s largest electric utilities, is starting a business to offer energy consulting and management services to commercial and industrial customers. The business, Edison Energy … is aimed at helping large organizations like Fortune 500 companies take advantage of evolving technologies, markets and incentives in areas including energy efficiency, renewables and storage.”

CLEAN COAL FOUNDERING — The New York Times’ Ian Austen: “An electrical plant on the Saskatchewan prairie was the great hope for industries that burn coal. In the first large-scale project of its kind, the plant was equipped with a technology that promised to pluck carbon out of the utility’s exhaust and bury it underground, transforming coal into a cleaner power source. In the months after opening, the utility and the provincial government declared the project an unqualified success. But the $1.1 billion project is now looking like a green dream. Known as SaskPower’s Boundary Dam 3, the project has been plagued by multiple shutdowns, has fallen way short of its emissions targets, and faces an unresolved problem with its core technology. The costs, too, have soared, requiring tens of millions of dollars in new equipment and repairs.”

STUDY: AIR POLLUTION HARMS BABIES BEFORE FIRST BREATH — The Washington Post’s Chelsea Harvey: “Air pollution in the U.S. may be causing thousands of premature births each year, a new study suggests — costing the nation billions of dollars along the way. The study, published Tuesday in the journal Environmental Health Perspectives, lends support to a growing body of research pointing to the grim health consequences of air pollution all over the world and its spectacular economic burdens. The new study focuses on a type of pollution known as fine particulate matter — tiny particles, less than 2.5 micrometers in diameter, that can be emitted by traffic, factories and other industrial activities. Exposure to particulate matter has been implicated in all kinds of adverse health outcomes, particularly cardiovascular problems, and is believed to be responsible for millions of premature deaths every year.”

BRITISH OIL DROPS ON FALKLANDS DECISION — The Wall Street Journal’s Selina Williams: “British oil companies with interests in the Falkland Islands suffered a blow on Tuesday when a U.N. commission said that the waters around the South Atlantic archipelago belong to Argentina. It is the latest flare up in the long-running diplomatic row over the sovereignty of the Falkland Islands that has engulfed oil and gas exploration companies, including U.K.-listed Premier Oil PLC and Rockhopper Exploration PLC, which are seeking to develop oil fields they discovered in disputed waters off the coast of the Falklands.”

HOT JUPITERS’ WILD RIDE — The Washington Post’s Rachel Feltman: “Hot Jupiters are exactly what they sound like. But it's how these Jupiter-like gas giants get so hot that's interesting: The planets orbit super-close to their host stars, creating incredibly hot worlds that undergo a whole slew of intriguing chemical reactions. Our Jupiter may be distant and cool by comparison, but in other solar systems, scientists have found, hot Jupiters are quite common. In a study soon to be published in Astrophysical Journal Letters, researchers led by Julien de Wit of MIT report on the behavior of one of these hotties. By using the NASA Spitzer Space Telescope, they've learned some things about HD 80606b, a hot Jupiter 190 light-years from Earth.”


--Oil fell below $40 as the recent rally begins to unravel. Nicole Friedman of the Wall Street Journal reports.

“Light, sweet crude for May delivery settled down $1.11, or 2.8%, at $38.28 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Brent, the global benchmark, fell $1.13, or 2.8%, to $39.14 a barrel on ICE Futures Europe.”

--Natural gas rallied on cool weather forecasts, the Journal reports.

“Natural-gas futures for April delivery settled up 5.5 cents, or 3%, at $1.903 a million British thermal units on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The April contract expired at settlement Tuesday. The more actively traded May contract settled up 4.5 cents, or 2.3%, at $1.981/mmBtu.”

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