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POLITICO New York Energy: Trump cuts could hit region hard -- Lawmakers look for more plant closure aid -- FDR Park suit

By Marie J. French and David Giambusso | 03/17/2017 09:57 AM EDT

Good morning! You are reading a complimentary synopsis of the POLITICO New York Pro Energy newsletter. Pro subscribers receive a premium version of this newsletter, which includes an enhanced look-ahead and robust analysis of the energy news driving the day, weekdays at 5:45 a.m. Contact us here to learn more.

EPA CUTS LOOM OVER THE REGION — POLITICO New York's Marie J. French and David Giambusso: While providing little clarity on what specific programs would be affected, President Donald Trump's proposed cuts to the Environmental Protection Agency would have a drastic impact on states' efforts to clean up pollution and maintain clean water. In New York, roughly one-fifth of the Department of Environmental Conservation's $450 million operating budget relies on federal funding. New Jersey's Department of Environmental Protection has budgeted $132 million in EPA funding for Fiscal Year 2018, or about a quarter of its operating revenue. In both states, the funding comes in the form of grants that support enforcement of federal clean air, water and pollution control rules. Trump's rough budget outline calls for a 31 percent cut , across the board, and slashing funding for categorical grants by 44 percent to less than $600 million. Read more here.

— Trump's proposed budget would cut a federal program that helps nearly 1.4 million in New York pay their heating bills each winter.

MORE AID AFTER COAL CLOSURE — Buffalo News' Nancy Fischer: "When NRG Energy closed the Huntley Power Plant a year ago, the impact on Erie County communities included not only the loss of jobs, but also a loss of $5.4 million a year in property taxes. The state came to the aid in 2016, creating a $30 million fund to help counties, cities, towns and school districts across the state that lost tax revenue because of the closing of an electric generating power plant... But those funds will only be available for five years and are scheduled to decrease incrementally each year, equaling only 20 percent of the lost taxes in the fifth year. On Wednesday, Assemblyman Robin Schimminger, D-Kenmore and State Sen. Chris Jacobs, D-Buffalo, announced what they called a 'major win' for taxpayers in the Town of Tonawanda and Ken-Ton School District, successfully including language in both the Assembly and Senate one-house budget bills that would provide millions of dollars more in state aid to communities impacted by closed power plants as well as extending the number of years they can get aid." Read more here.

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ACCESS LAWSUIT OVER FDR PARK — The New York Times' Eli Rosenberg: "A New York park honoring President Franklin D. Roosevelt, who used a wheelchair for years, is not fully accessible to disabled people, according to a class-action suit filed against the state and the conservancy that runs the park." Read more here.

AROUND NEW YORK:

— The Town of Pendleton's refusal to grant a building permit for a compressor station for National Fuel's FERC-approved natural gas pipeline has triggered a federal lawsuit.

— Exxon Mobil is complaining about the way New York's attorney general disclosed that former CEO and current Secretary of State Rex Tillerson used an alias email account, saying it damaged the company by generating "sensational coverage in the press."

— An ode to the toughness and persistence of the alewife.

— Tucked away under the Throgs Neck Bridge in the Bronx is the often overlooked State University of New York Maritime College, which has become known for its strong engineering and marine transportation programs.

— An alliance of Mamaroneck homeowners, village officials and county lawmakers say new upgrades to a sewage pump station in a scenic part of the village could become a permanent waterfront eyesore.

— The clean-up after Stella will cost millions.

— Local anglers voiced the challenges they face as the DEC ran through its statistics and management practices for Lake Ontario and its tributaries.

— Holy mackerel! There were some big fish caught in New York in 2016.

— Sweet syrup! Yes, it's finally maple weekend despite the chilly weather and New York's maple producers are ready.

— A widespread power outage hit downtown Syracuse Thursday.

— Warren County is examining a settlement with Siemens after the country said the company's technology did not deliver promised energy savings.

— The town of Moreau has to pay some loggers after a contract went south.

— Op-ed: New York needs about $800 million in water infrastructure investments.

— The City of Ogdensburg will use water infrastructure money to pay for repairs on a salt shed.

— A report funded by NYSERDA found that diverting food scraps away from landfills would result in between $15 million and $22 million in net benefits for the state.

— ICYMI: Rochester couple frustrated with RG&E's performance on restoring power, providing information after windstorm outages.

GRAPHIC OF THE DAY: How snow forecasts have fared compared to storm totals in New York City and elsewhere.

TRUMP'S EPA BUDGET DRAWS OUTCRY — The Washington Post's Brady Dennis: "No agency in the federal government fared worse under Thursday's proposed budget than the Environmental Protection Agency. The Trump administration would slash the EPA's budget by 31 percent, cut 3,200 of its 15,000 workers, cut funding for climate change research and Superfund cleanup and scrap more than 50 programs altogether." Read more here.

— Mick Mulvaney, Trump's OMB director said of climate spending: "I think the president was pretty straightforward: We're not spending money on that anymore ... We consider that a waste of your money to go out and do that, so that is a specific tie to his campaign."

TRUMP WATER CUTS AT ODDS WITH CAMPAIGN PROMISE — POLITICO's Annie Snider: Despite a modest boost to some water infrastructure investments, President Donald Trump's first budget proposal does little to live up to his promise to deliver "crystal clean water," according to environmental groups, state officials and lawmakers across the political spectrum. Read more here.

TRUMP MAY TAP WHEELER AS EPA DEPUTY — POLITICO's Andrew Restuccia, Alex Guillén and Anthony Adragna: President Donald Trump is expected to tap Andrew Wheeler, a coal lobbyist and former aide to Sen. Jim Inhofe, to be the deputy administrator of the EPA, sources familiar with the hiring process told POLITICO. Read more here.

CARS WILL GET MORE EFFICIENT — Bloomberg's Kyle Stock: "Vehicles have grown remarkably more efficient in recent years, and that momentum isn't going to stop because of new EPA targets." Read more here.

CA UTILITIES LOSING TO CLEAN POWER — Bloomberg's New Energy Finance: "California utilities are losing business to local power authorities that were created to deliver clean power to residents." Read more here.

AVANGRID WINS NC OFFSHORE AUCTION — POLITICO's Esther Whieldon: Avangrid Renewables is the winner of the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management's auction today of an offshore wind lease for 122,405 acres of the Atlantic Ocean near North Carolina. Read more here.

HOW'D THIS WHALE GET HERE? — The New York Times' Joanna Klein: "Take half a dozen retired Navy dolphins and put them in a huge tank with a trainer and some oversized hula hoops for six months and what do you get?" Find out here.

ICYMI: GOP CONGRESS MEMBERS BUCK PARTY ON CLIMATE — Bloomberg's Eric Roston: "Seventeen conservative Republican members of Congress —10 of them in their first or second terms— are bucking long-time party positions and the new occupant of the White House." Read more here.

ETNA BLAST INJURES TEN — The BBC: "BBC crew members were among 10 people injured when lava flow triggered an explosion as it came into contact with snow on Mount Etna in Sicily on Thursday." Read more here.

EXXON LIKES A PRICE WAR — Bloomberg's Liam Denning: "If Saudi Arabia's saber-rattling leads to renewed price warfare in the oil market this year, then everyone involved will suffer — except you drivers, of course." Read more here.

NUCLEAR RESEARCHERS LOOKING AT MORE EFFICIENT FUEL — Phys.org: "Researchers with the Fuel Cycles and Materials Laboratory within the Department of Nuclear Engineering at Texas A&M University are working to make big impacts on energy efficiency with small materials level changes." Read more here.

FUTURES:

— Oil fell Thursday as investors continue to worry about too much production The Wall Street Journal reports.

"U.S. crude futures settled down 11 cents, or 0.23%, at $48.75 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Brent, the global benchmark, fell 7 cents, or 0.14%, to $51.74 a barrel on ICE Futures Europe."

— Natural gas was down too as warmer weather worried investors, the Journal reports.

"Natural gas for April delivery fell 7.9 cents, or 2.65%, to $2.902 a million British thermal units on the New York Mercantile Exchange."

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