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POLITICO New York Energy, presented by Nuclear Matters: Wind farm fight; fracktivists fractured

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 newyork@politicopro.com and we'll set you up for trial access. Thank you for reading.

WIND FARM FIGHT INTENSIFIES AS STATE LOOKS TO GROW RENEWABLES — POLITICO New York’s Scott Waldman: The fight over an upstate wind farm has intensified at a time when the state wants to dramatically expand its renewable energy portfolio. The Lighthouse wind project in Niagara County, proposed by Virginia-based Apex Clean Energy, would develop about 70 wind turbines, each about 600 feet tall, on the shoreline of Lake Ontario. The 200-megawatt project would power 53,000 homes. The project has been met with significant resistance from some local community members who say the turbines will erode property values. The Cuomo administration has mandated that New York receive half of its electrical grid power from renewable energy by 2030, about double the current rate. http://politi.co/1S5tB2F

‘FRACKTIVISTS’ IN NEW YORK DIVIDED IN PRESIDENTIAL RACE—The New York Times’ Coral Davenport and Trip Gabriel: “A nasty row that erupted between Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders over oil and gas industry donors last week is catapulting the issue of climate change into the race for the Democratic presidential nomination as it moves to New York, where an army of activists upstate is driven by opposition to drilling. Mrs. Clinton has moved steadily left on the issue, under pressure from Mr. Sanders and his progressive allies, but she continues to come under assault, posing new challenges for her as the race moves to more liberal Northeastern states.” http://nyti.ms/23bObXh

COUNCIL CLOSES IN ON BAG DEAL — POLITICO New York’s Gloria Pazmino and David Giambusso: The City Council and Mayor Bill de Blasio’s administration are closing in on a deal to pass a bill this month that will impose a five-cent fee on all plastic and paper bags issued in stores, despite opposition among Council members who see the proposal as an unfair and unnecessary fee that would punish low-income families Councilman Brad Lander, the bill’s chief sponsor, said the Council is working to pass the bill in anticipation of Earth Day on April 22. “We really hope to pass the plastic bag bill by Earth Day. This is the right time to do it and we are continuing to work aggressively with our colleagues and to dialogue with the speaker and the mayor and advocates and businesses to try and come up with an approach that works for New York City,” Lander said. http://politi.co/1VrIz8x

** A Message from Nuclear Matters: Providing 61 percent of the state’s carbon-free electricity, New York’s nuclear energy plants are a necessary and valuable part of the state’s energy mix, and deserve the support of state lawmakers for their role in providing New York with reliable electricity while protecting the environment. Learn more: NuclearMatters.com. **

AROUND NEW YORK:

--Soil samples collected from the Little League baseball fields near Hoosick Falls' contaminated water wells do not show dangerous levels of contamination. http://politi.co/1V5hitG

--A Western New York pipeline will be delayed at least a year because of low oil and gas prices. http://bit.ly/1SMuPD2

--Rhode Island Senator Sheldon Whitehouse criticizes the Wall Street Journal for its coverage of climate change. http://huff.to/1qoZQUs

--A “mountain lion” in the Adirondacks was actually a house cat, according to the DEC. The agency first grew suspicious when the alleged predator became distracted by a piece of aluminum foil before suddenly deciding to take a nap. http://bit.ly/1UEm9lD

--InsideClimate News recently found out about Con Ed’s BQDM project. http://bit.ly/1VrLldV

--Bill Cosby’s property in Massachusetts will be among those affected by the Northeast Energy Direct pipeline, which also goes through New York. http://bit.ly/1SwzaaW

GOOD TUESDAY 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

JUDGE APPROVES $20B BP GULF SETTLEMENT — Reuters: “U.S. Judge Carl Barbier granted final approval on Monday to BP Plc's civil settlement over its 2010 Gulf of Mexico oil spill after it reached a deal in July 2015 to pay up to $18.7 billion in penalties to the U.S. government and five states. The company at the time said its total pre-tax charges from the spill set aside for criminal and civil penalties and cleanup costs were around $53.8 billion. Under the terms of the original agreement with the U.S. Department of Justice and the Gulf Coast states, BP will pay at least $12.8 billion for Clean Water Act fines and natural resource damages, plus $4.9 billion to states. The payouts will be staggered over some 16 to 18 years.” http://nyti.ms/1VrJKos

EPA SCIENTIST’S LONG FRACKING MISSION—EnergyWire’s Gayathri Vaidyanathan: “Former EPA scientist Dominic DiGiulio never gave up. Eight years ago, people in Pavillion, Wyo., living in the middle of a natural gas basin, complained of a bad taste and smell in their drinking water. U.S. EPA launched an inquiry, helmed by DiGiulio, and preliminary testing suggested that the groundwater contained toxic chemicals. Then, in 2013, the agency suddenly transferred the investigation to state regulators without publishing a final report. Now, DiGiulio has done it for them.” http://bit.ly/1Yb9p3P

DEVELOPING ECONOMIES NEED MORE RENEWABLES — The New York Times’ editorial board: “Some world leaders, especially in developing countries like India, have long said it’s hard to reduce the emissions that are warming the planet because they need to use relatively inexpensive — but highly carbon-intensive — fuels like coal to keep energy affordable. That argument is losing its salience as the cost of renewable energy sources like wind and solar continue to fall. Last year, for the first time, renewables accounted for a majority of new electricity-generating capacity added around the world, according to a recent United Nations report.” http://nyti.ms/1MOJDSv

DESPITE CHEAP POWER UTILITY BILLS ON THE RISE — Bloomberg: “Record-low costs for power in the U.S. haven’t translated into lower monthly payments for consumers. As the price of electricity in the eastern U.S. fell by half over the last decade, utilities raised monthly bills for residential customers by 26 percent, according to government data. Consumer advocates say the power companies are using falling electricity costs as cover to raise other charges. Utilities counter that it’s payback for billions of dollars worth of government-mandated improvements to long-neglected infrastructure. It’s ‘a good thing that energy prices have fallen off and allowed the required capital to be installed and be done without impacting the consumer,’ said Exelon Corp. Chief Executive Officer Chris Crane in an interview during a conference organized by Bloomberg New Energy Finance in New York on Monday.” http://bloom.bg/1SMFf5H

UTILITY SABOTEUR WANTS TO STRIKE AGAIN — Associated Press Denise Lavoie: “A man accused of putting devices resembling pipe bombs on high-voltage power lines left a note threatening to attack utilities and to publish online instructions on how to make similar devices, according to an FBI affidavit released Monday. Danny Kelly was arrested Saturday, days after firefighters responded to a brush fire near National Grid electric power lines in Tyngsborough, 35 miles northwest of Boston. Authorities said they found metallic, cylindrical devices hanging from the power lines. One of the devices was found on the ground and is believed to have started the brush fire.” http://apne.ws/1SwXklw

GREENS WILL STILL VOTE BLUE IN NOVEMBER — POLITICO’s Elana Schor: The increasingly angry feud between Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders over her fossil-fuel money might be one of this campaign season's few sources of untrammeled joy for Republicans. But the GOP may want to keep its glee to a minimum, because greens are likely to stick with the Democrats in November. That's because the same rowdy climate activists who scorch Clinton for taking an alleged $1.4 million-plus in bundled donations from oil and gas lobbyists acknowledge that she has adopted a more environmentally minded tone as a White House contender than she did as secretary of state, when her department championed fracking overseas and appeared to favor the Keystone XL pipeline. And while they might not relish a Clinton nomination, they're unlikely to sit on their hands during the general election, especially with either Donald Trump or Ted Cruz atop the GOP ticket. Even the young environmentalist who confronted Clinton last week in a New York rope line -- prompting the candidate to growl that 'I am so sick of the Sanders campaign lying about me' =- told POLITICO she considers Republicans the real enemy. [federal PRO] http://politico.pro/1VrLRsm

JUDGE TO WHITE HOUSE: CONSIDER THE WOLVERINE — The Associated Press: “The Obama administration brushed over the threat that climate change poses to the snow-loving wolverine when it denied protections for the elusive predator also known as the ‘mountain devil,’ a federal judge ruled Monday. U.S. District Judge Dana Christensen ordered wildlife officials to act as quickly as possible to protect the species as it becomes vulnerable to a warming planet. Wolverines need deep mountain snows to den, and scientists warn that such habitat will shrink as the planet heats up.” http://wapo.st/1VrJ3LV

OP-ED: CA GAS UTILITY SKIRTING CONSEQUENCES FOR HISTORIC LEAK — The Los Angeles Times’ Michael Hiltzik: "For most of the period after Oct. 23, when a massive gas leak at a Southern California Gas Co. storage well in Aliso Canyon was discovered, the gas company made all the right noises. The company pledged to counteract pollution from the methane leak and help the residents of nearby Porter Ranch, who were displaced for months by the noxious fumes of escaping gas. ‘SoCalGas recognizes the impact this incident is having on the environment,’ gas company CEO Dennis Arriola wrote in a letter to Gov. Jerry Brown on Dec.18, even before the leak was capped. 'I want to assure the public that we intend to mitigate environmental impacts from the actual natural gas released from the leak and will work with state officials to develop a framework that will help us achieve this goal.’" http://lat.ms/1VrKVEz

MARINES TO OPERATE FIRST MICROGRID BASE — Fox News: “Whenever the military sets up operations in isolated and hostile locations like Iraq or Afghanistan, one of the biggest challenges is ensuring troops get reliable power. Until now, that often has meant trucking in vast amounts of diesel to power generators, a strategy that isn’t all that environmentally friendly and is vulnerable to attack or other problems like a driver strike or mechanical breakdown. But what if military bases could produce their own power? That is a strategy being trialed in California at the Marine Corps Air Station, which is the first military base to operate its own microgrid. The project, funded U.S. Department of Energy’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory, relies on a 250-kW, 1-MWh battery system produced by Primus Power and Raytheon's Intelligent Power and Energy Management Microgrid Controller to keep electricity flowing.” http://fxn.ws/1SMELwe

FUTURES:

--Oil extends slide: Oil prices fell again Monday after markets suddenly lost faith that production would be capped any time soon, The Wall Street Journal reports.

“The benchmark U.S. oil contract fell 3% to $35.70 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange, after a 4% pullback on Friday. The global Brent crude contract ended down 2.5% at $37.69 a barrel on the ICE Futures Europe exchange. Both contracts ended at their lowest level since March 3.” http://on.wsj.com/1SMETMi

--Natural gas markets realized it was cold and prices jumped accordingly, the Journal reports.

“Natural gas futures ended the day up 2.1% at $1.9980 a million British thermal units on the New York Mercantile Exchange, extending a 12% rally since late March. The natural gas market has been in the doldrums this year as a mild winter limited demand and robust gas production added to supplies.” http://on.wsj.com/1SMEUQs

** A Message from Nuclear Matters: New York’s existing nuclear energy plants provide 61 percent of the state’s carbon-free electricity and play a vital role in achieving our clean-energy and carbon-reduction goals. Additional premature retirements of safe, reliable nuclear energy plants mean New Yorkers would pay more for electricity, the economy would suffer and we would face substantially higher carbon emissions.

New York has taken an essential step forward to address the premature closures of our nuclear energy plants. The proposed development of a Clean Energy Standard by the Public Service Commission would, for the first time, ensure that existing nuclear plants are valued for their carbon-free attributes.

We urge the state to include all of New York’s existing nuclear energy plants, regardless of their geography in the state, in the proposed Clean Energy Standard. All nuclear energy facilities bring significant reliability and clean-air benefits to New York. Learn more: NuclearMatters.com. **

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