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POLITICO New York Energy: Schneiderman and Gore; NYCHA tests for lead

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.

WHAT WILL SCHNEIDERMAN SAY? POLITICO’s Elana Schor: “New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman's Tuesday event on climate change will likely discuss ‘the potential of commencing new investigations or joining ongoing investigations,’ a spokeswoman for the Connecticut attorney general said, but that state does not expect to reveal a formal endorsement of Schneiderman's probe into ExxonMobil. Schneiderman's planned appearance in New York with former Vice President Al Gore and the attorneys general of six states has stoked speculation about new investigations into Exxon's communications about its knowledge of climate science.” [federal Pro]

--Schneiderman will appear with Vermont Attorney General William Sorrell, Virginia Attorney General Mark Herring, Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey, Maryland Attorney General Brian Frosh, Connecticut Attorney General George Jepsen and United States Virgin Island Attorney General Claude Walker at at 11:30 a.m. at his Manhattan office, 120 Broadway, 25th Floor.

NYCHA TESTING FOR LEAD — POLITICO New York’s Gloria Pazmino: The city has recently conducted random water tests of vacant public housing units to check for lead, New York City Housing Authority chair Shola Olatoye told the City Council on Monday. Testifying at a preliminary budget hearing, Olatoye said the tests were conducted “out of abundance of caution,” similarly to how other agencies, including the Department of Education, are testing their systems. In the random sampling of 175 vacant units, 13 showed elevated levels in water collected from “first draw,” as soon as the faucet was turned on. After a second draw and after letting the water run, only one unit showed elevated lead levels.

BOUNDLESS APPEALS PSC — WAMC: "An energy company that claims its proposal would have rendered the least environmental impact for a transmission line project has appealed a New York State Public Service Commission decision denying a request for rehearing. The company has gone to state Supreme Court with the matter. Boundless Energy NE was one of four companies that had submitted proposals to the Public Service Commission in 2015, as part of submissions for the state’s long-term energy highway vision. The companies want to build new high-voltage power lines primarily to carry electricity from upstate to feed the power hungry downstate energy markets of New York City and the lower Hudson Valley. The idea is to reduce grid congestion and allow lower-cost electricity and renewable electricity to penetrate the downstate market."

DE BLASIO SIGNS BUILDING ENERGY BILLS — POLITICO New York’s Miranda Neubauer: Mayor Bill de Blasio signed eight pieces of legislation Monday afternoon, two of which relate to environmental regulations for buildings. One, introduced by City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito, requires city-owned buildings to be designed and constructed as low energy intensity buildings. The other, sponsored by Councilman Jumaane Williams, updates the law requiring green building standards for certain capital projects to meet higher LEED certification standards. "This will ensure our buildings conserve as much energy as possible, and also generate renewable energy where possible," De Blasio said of the first bill.


--Studies indicate Long Island is trailing the rest of New York in energy efficiency projects.

--N.J. bill would test every school for lead: Every school in New Jersey, whether public or private, would have to test its water immediately for lead and twice a year moving forward — once within 30 days before the start of school in the fall and again six months later — if a bill proposed by state Senate Democratic leaders on Monday becomes law.

--Former DEC Commissioner Joe Martens has been named environmentalist of the year by the Adirondack Council.

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SEC INVESTIGATING SUN EDISON — The Wall Street Journal: “The Securities and Exchange Commission is investigating SunEdison Inc.’s disclosures to investors about how much cash the solar-power company had on hand as its stock price collapsed last year, according to people familiar with the matter. Officials in the SEC’s enforcement unit are looking into whether SunEdison overstated its liquidity last fall when it told investors it had more than $1 billion in cash, the people said. At the time, SunEdison shares had fallen about 75% since midsummer.”

ARCTIC HITTING NEW ICE LOWS — The Washington Post’s Chris Mooney: “First came January, when Arctic sea ice hit a record low monthly extent — the area of ice over the ocean was 1.04 million square kilometers lower than the average from 1981-2010, based on satellite observations. Then came February — and the very same story. The ice grew in comparison with January, as is typical of the seasonal cycle, but still was at a record low for the month, and this time 1.16 million square kilometers below average. The records aren’t over yet — on Monday, the National Snow and Ice Data Center and NASA announced that a few days ago, on March 24,”

FRACK QUAKES COMING — Bloomberg’s Eric Roston: “Towns on the Great Plains are built to withstand tornadoes. Earthquakes are a new thing. A cluster of central states surrounding Oklahoma now faces the highest risk of earthquakes induced by human activities ‘such as fluid injection or extraction,’ according to a short-term seismic forecast by the U.S. Geological Survey. The report, which for the first time includes quakes that may be linked to oil and gas production, comes after an alarming six-year rise in the incidence of quakes throughout the central and eastern U.S. There, some seven million people, concentrated near Oklahoma City and Dallas-Fort Worth, face an increased risk of earthquakes. There were more than 1,000 quakes last year with a magnitude greater than 3 on the 10-point Richter scale, up from an annual average of 24 between 1973 and 2008..”

MASSIVE GAS LEAK = MASSIVE BONUS FOR SEMPRA CEO — Bloomberg’s Anders Melin: “The same year a broken Sempra Energy storage well created the biggest natural gas leak in U.S. history, Chief Executive Officer Debra Reed earned her largest bonus yet. While Reed received no payout for the part of her 2015 bonus that’s tied to customer satisfaction and pipeline safety at two Sempra utilities — amounting to about $130,000 — she was awarded $3.17 million because the company’s earnings exceeded targets, according to a company statement. It’s her biggest bonus yet as CEO. Her total pay package was $16.1 million in the fiscal year ended Dec. 31, a proxy statement filed Friday shows.”

EPA LAYS OUT CLEAN POWER DEFENSE — POLITICO’s Eric Wolff: “EPA hewed closely to its well-rehearsed legal strategy in laying out the arguments to support the Clean Power Plan in a brief filed Monday in the D.C. Circuit, arguing that the Supreme Court and the Clean Air Act gave it the right to regulate carbon dioxide emissions from power plants. ‘The Clean Air Act provides the Environmental Protection Agency well-established authority to abate threats to public health and welfare by limiting the amount of air pollution that power plants pump into the atmosphere,’ the brief said, summarizing its core legal argument. ‘The Supreme Court has clarified that EPA's duties ... encompass the responsibility to limit power plants' CO2 emissions to abate climate change threats.’”

FLORIDA’S SEA RISE THREAT — The Washington Post’s Chelsea Harvey: “The looming threat of sea-level rise is a cause for anxiety throughout much of the coastal United States, and Florida is one of the unlucky states most at risk. Miami, alone, is considered one of the most vulnerable cities in the nation — it’s already subject to frequent flooding and has plans to spend hundreds of millions of dollars on flood control in the near future. But today’s Sunshine State residents are by no means the first Floridians forced to deal with the rising tides. In fact, some of the state’s earliest inhabitants were also forced to move and adapt in response to changing water levels thousands of years ago — and their history may provide some helpful insights into the struggles faced by today’s coastal dwellers.”

ENERGY STORAGE MARKET GROWING — Energy Manager Today: "The commercial and industrial (C&I) energy storage market in the United States, led by California, is growing, according to Navigant Research. The firm predicts that the sector will grow from $968.4 million this year to $10.8 billion in 2025. Capacity will expand from 499.4 MW this year to 9.1 GW by the end of the study period. The market will change as it grows, according to the executive summary of the report, which was released last week."

CASINOS SHY FROM NEVADA UTILITY FIGHT — POLITICO’s Esther Whieldon: “Some of the biggest casinos in Las Vegas appear to be staying out of a larger fight over whether to end Nevada's utility monopoly as they mull whether to pay hefty exit fees in order to leave on their own. The Sands, MGM and Wynn resorts have not joined other larger power users behind a ballot measure that would break up NV Energy's monopoly control of its electric customers in the Silver State, an effort being spearheaded by large data center owner Switch and electric car maker Tesla.” [federal Pro]

OIL NOT REPLACING ITS RESERVES — The Wall Street Journal’s Sarah Kent: “The world’s biggest oil companies are draining their petroleum reserves faster than they are replacing them — a symptom of how a deep oil-price decline is reshaping the energy industry’s priorities. In 2015, the seven biggest publicly traded Western energy companies, including Exxon Mobil Corp. and Royal Dutch Shell PLC, replaced just 75% of the oil and natural gas they pumped, on average, according to a Wall Street Journal analysis of company data. It was the biggest combined drop in inventory that companies have reported in at least a decade. For Exxon, 2015 marked the first time in more than two decades it didn’t fully replace production with new reserves, according to the company. It reported replacing 67% of its 2015 output.”

THE PLANTS ARE WATCHING — The New York Times’ Joanna Klein: “Plants are reviving after a long winter, helped along by warming temperatures and increased light. But do plants also ‘remember’ what to do? Maybe so. In 2014, Dr. Monica Gagliano and colleagues at the University of Florence in Italy decided to see if they could train a plant to change behavior. The researchers chose Mimosa pudica, more commonly known as the touch-me-not,, which curls up its leaves in response to physical stimulation. Test plants in their pots were dropped onto foam from a height of about six inches to elicit the flinching response. After repeated exposure with no major harm, the plants no longer recoiled. Even after a month left alone, the plants ‘remembered’ the falls weren’t harmful and ignored them. Dr. Gagliano, now at the University of Western Australia, concluded from the experiment that plants could ‘learn’ long-lasting behaviors, sort of like memories.”


--Oil extended losses Monday: The Wall Street Journal reports that traders returned from the holiday with too much supply still flooding the market.

“The benchmark U.S. contract fell 0.2% to $39.39 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange, while the Brent contract lost 0.4% to settle at $40.27 on the ICE Futures Europe exchange. European trading was light due to the extended Easter weekend holiday there.”

--Natural gas perked up on reports cold weather is coming, the Journal reports.

“Natural gas futures for April delivery rose 2.3% to settle at $1.8480 a million British thermal units on the New York Mercantile Exchange, regaining some of the ground they lost last week.”

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