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POLITICO New York Energy, presented by Nuclear Matters: Many Hoosick wells still unsafe; buildings department pans gas safety bills

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.

MANY HOOSICK HOMEOWNERS STILL CAN’T DRINK WATER — POLITICO New York’s Scott Waldman: More than 600 homeowners in Hoosick Falls still cannot drink the water. Over the past few months, the state has overseen the installation of 652 water treatment systems in homes with polluted wells, but just 16 of those systems have been cleared for use, state officials said Tuesday. As many as 100 could be working by the end of next week, they said. State officials would only speak on background about the reason for the delay, but acknowledged “bumps along the way” and said that carbon needed for use in filters had to be shipped in from other parts of the country because of the rapid rollout. The local water supply in the Rensselaer County village has been contaminated with the toxic chemical perfluorooctanoic acid, or PFOA, which has been linked to a nearby factory that manufactures non-stick products. The state declared the factory, owned by Saint-Gobain, a Superfund site after the federal Environmental Protection Agency warned residents late last year not to consume the water.



--The book by former KGB spy and NYISO employee Jack Barsky is due next year.

--The St. Lawrence River ranks ninth on the American Rivers, Washington D.C. 2016 list of most endangered rivers.

--Former New York Times energy reporter Matthew Wald opines on what would happen if Indian Point were taken offline, as Bernie Sanders recently recommended.

--The state extended the period for public comments on its renewable plan.

--A new bill would allow hunters to wear pink camouflage, which apparently will make them want to hunt.

--N.J. Gov. Chris Christie signaled movement on a gas tax, POLITICO New Jersey’s Ryan Hutchins reports.

--Two Con Ed employees were honored at the 46th annual Harlem YMCA National Salute to Black Achievers in Industry awards ceremony. Rod Herbert, general manager of facilities operations and maintenance, and David Pearce, department manager for Manhattan Regional Engineering, both received awards.

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

** 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: **

SUPPORT DRIES UP FOR RENEWABLE ENERGY TAX CREDITS — The Wall Street Journal’s Richard Rubin: “An attempt by renewable energy advocates to have their tax breaks hitch a ride on a Senate aviation bill looks like it isn’t going to get off the ground. The breaks in question included some odds and ends that had been left out of last year’s tax-extensions law, such as tax credits for geothermal heat pumps, clean-energy manufacturing facilities and fuel cells. They came under criticism from some Republicans and from Americans for Prosperity and Freedom Partners Chamber of Commerce, groups tied to the industrialists Charles and David Koch, who pegged them as ‘corporate welfare.’”

U.S. NAVY REQUIRING VENDORS TO REPORT ON CLIMATE CHANGE — The Associated Press’ Ellen Nickmeyer: “The U.S. Navy on Tuesday became the first branch of the U.S. military — the world’s single-largest user of fossil fuels — to say it will start requiring big vendors to report their output of climate-changing greenhouse gases and work to lower it. 'We’ve got skin in this game,' Navy Secretary Ray Mabus told a Silicon Valley conference on tech, government and climate change, noting that the Navy is facing rising ocean levels and a surge of interest as ice melts in the Arctic. The U.S. military has characterized climate change as a threat to national security since at least 2014, saying drought and other natural disasters can foster instability, conflict and extremism.”

POLITIFACT — OBAMA RIGHT THAT TEXAS WIND IS CHEAPER: President Obama said in his 2016 State of the Union that in Iowa and Texas, wind power is cheaper than power derived from oil and gas. Politifact Texas rated the statement as true. “Nationally, average coal and gas prices were running less than average wind power costs. Yet in Iowa and Texas, wind energy proved cheaper, according to an Energy Information Administration analyst. Meantime, an American Wind Energy Association blog post talking up Obama’s Iowa-Texas SOTU claim noted a 2015 study by Lazard LLC, a financial services firm, stating the cost of wind production in Texas, not counting government subsidies, runs from $36 to $51 per megawatt-hour while an average national cost for coal-fired electricity ranges from $65 to $150 per MWh and for gas, depending on the type of plant, from $52/MWh to $218/MWh.”

START YOUR ENGINES, AMERICA — Bloomberg: “Americans driving on their summer vacations will enjoy the cheapest gasoline in 12 years as prices stall just above $2 a gallon. Drivers will pay 59 cents a gallon less at the pump this summer than a year ago and $1.55 below 2014, when oil prices peaked above $100 a barrel, the Energy Information Administration said Tuesday. Gasoline demand this summer will increase 1.4 percent from last year to a record.”

HOUSE GOP PUSHES CALIFORNIA DROUGHT LANGUAGE — POLITICO’S Annie Snider: “House Republicans are pushing their California drought language at the start of the appropriations process, upping the ante in an ongoing battle with Senate Democrats over how to balance environmental protections and water needs in the parched state. A spending bill for the Interior Department, Department of Energy and Army Corps of Engineers unveiled [Tuesday] includes language drawn from California Republican Rep. David Valadao 's drought measure. That bill passed the House last summer on a largely party-line vote, with Democrats arguing it would gut endangered species protections.

WATCHDOG: CALIFORNIA REGULATORS MISLEADING ON BLACKOUTS — CBS Los Angeles: “A consumer advocacy group wants lawmakers to press California state energy regulators to address what it calls misleading statements about potential blackouts later this year if the Aliso Canyon gas reserves are shut down. Michael Picker, the chairman of the California Energy Commission (CPUC), said last week that the partial shutdown of the Aliso Canyon storage field in Porter Ranch could lead to short-term power outages for up to 14 days. A letter from Consumer Watchdog (PDF) addressed to Senator pro Tem Kevin de Leon, Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon, and utility oversight committee chairs Senator Mike Gatto, and Assembly member Ben Hueso calls for Pickers and other energy regulators to appear under oath and address recent 'misrepresentations and omissions.'"

YALE DIVESTS LESS THAN $10M IN FOSSIL FUELS — Bloomberg: “Managers of Yale University’s $25.6 billion endowment sold less than $10 million in investments in fossil-fuel companies that were ‘inconsistent with our principles’ of a sustainable environment, according to David Swensen, the fund’s chief. One of the fund’s outside managers exited a small position in a publicly traded company that produced and sold coal, according to a letter posted Tuesday on the school’s website. A second manager sold interests on Yale’s behalf in two publicly traded oil sands producers, Swensen wrote. Neither the managers nor the companies were named.”

BACTERIA POWER — The Economic Times: “In a first, scientists have created a bio-solar panel that generates electricity from photosynthesis and respiratory activities of cyanobacteria, or blue-green algae, and can run small devices in remote areas where regular battery replacement is not possible. Researchers connected nine biological-solar (bio-solar) cells into a panel that continuously produced electricity from the panel and generated the most wattage of any existing small-scale bio-solar cells — 5.59 microwatts.”

TURTLE SMUGGLER SENTENCED TO FIVE YEARS — The Associated Press: “A Canadian man who repeatedly entered Michigan to buy and ship thousands of turtles to his native China was sentenced to nearly five years in federal prison Tuesday for smuggling. It was a tough punishment for Kai Xu, who has been locked up for 19 months since his arrest and had hoped to be released. The 27-year-old expressed remorse to a judge and thanked agents 'for stopping the darkness of my greed and ignorance.' ... The government said Xu shipped turtles to China from Canada and the U.S., or hired people to fly to China with turtles in their luggage. In 2014, he was caught at the Ontario, Canada, border with 51 turtles taped to his legs.”

REPORT: OIL SANDS LEAK CAUSED BY MINING COMPANIES — InsideClimate News’ Zahra Hirji: “Canadian regulators quietly released a major report blaming four uncontrollable leaks in the heart of Alberta's tar sands patch on an energy company's injection of too much steam underground, while seeking to tap ever-deeper reserves. Canadian Natural Resources Limited (CNRL) pushed the limit of how much steam it could reasonably inject underground at high pressures to release bitumen deep below the surface, concluded officials at Alberta Energy Regulator (AER). The report, published last month, also noted the area's complex local geology as a critical contributing role. For one leak, officials partly blamed well-related failures.”


--Oil climbs on a wing and a prayer: Markets are betting hard that when OPEC meets they will agree to a freeze on production, the Wall Street Journal’s Nicole Friedman reports.

“Light, sweet crude for May delivery settled up $1.81, or 4.5%, to $42.17 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange on Tuesday, the highest settlement since November. The U.S. oil benchmark settled above its 200-day moving average for the first time since 2014, when prices were above $100 a barrel. That is a key bullish signal for traders who rely on chart-based strategies, analysts say. Brent, the global benchmark, rose $1.86, or 4.3%, to $44.69 a barrel on ICE Futures Europe, also the highest level since November.”

--Natural gas also did well on hopes of domestic production cuts, Friedman reports.

“Natural-gas futures for May delivery settled up 9.2 cents, or 4.8%, at $2.004 a million British thermal units on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The stocks of natural-gas producers also rallied Tuesday. Chesapeake Energy Corp. rose 34%, Ultra Petroleum Corp. rose 44% and Southwestern Energy Co. rose 15%.”

** 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: **

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