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POLITICO New York Energy: More delays on energy highway, New York ahead of the emissions game

By David Giambusso and Scott Waldman

Good morning! We've made some changes to this newsletter and our site today. Capital New York has now been renamed POLITICO New York and POLITICO Media. You'll still receive the same quality reporting and must-read newsletters each morning.

Only POLITICO Pro subscribers receive this email at 5:30 a.m. each weekday. If you'd like to receive it at that time, along with a customized real-time news feed of New York energy policy news throughout the day, please contact us at lenglander@politico.com and we'll set you up for trial access. We’ll send the same newsletter to non-Pro subscribers at 10 a.m.

STATE NEEDS MORE TIME ON ENERGY HIGHWAY—Politico New York’s Scott Waldman: The state will take more time to consider the need to run transmission lines in the Hudson Valley to meet downstate’s growing power demand. The AC transmission process was a key part of Governor Andrew Cuomo’s signature energy initiative. The multi-billion-dollar Energy Highway, announced more than three years ago, is supposed to ease congestion bottlenecks on the energy grid that prevent adequate power from reaching the regions that need it most, driving up prices. But the transmission-line process has dragged on for years amid growing opposition from residents and municipalities located in the path of the lines. The state Department of Public Service is exploring the need for more transmission lines and has winnowed down a list of 21 applications from developers to seven finalists. http://politi.co/1IO9xBJ

NEW YORK AHEAD OF THE EMISSIONS GAME—The Albany Times Union’s Brian Nearing: While New York may have a six-year head start on a federal climate change plan unveiled this week, it still has work to do—particularly in encouraging more wind and solar power, the regional head of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency said Tuesday. Still, said regional E.P.A. Administrator Judith Enck, "New York is ahead of the pack because of its early and serious commitment" to reduce electric power plant emissions through the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative, the nation's first cap-and-trade climate change program.”

--New Jersey, not so much: Enck said Governor Chris Christie’s decision to withdraw from RGGI was short-sighted and has set the Garden State back in achieving aggressive carbon reduction goals. "New York and other northeastern states had a running start on this by their participation," she said in an interview with Giambusso for POLITICO New Jersey. "Not only did New Jersey miss out on the opportunity to reduce carbon emissions, they also walked away from millions of dollars.” http://politi.co/1JMXaGQ

POWER OUTAGE UPDATE: As of 9 p.m. Wednesday, PSEG Long Island reported that only 4,352 customers were still without power after a severe thunderstorm tore through the region early Tuesday morning. The utility said 95 percent of approximately 80,000 people affected had been restored.

AROUND NEW YORK :

--SolarCity is already looking to Mexico to start installing some of those solar panels manufactured in Buffalo. http://bit.ly/1JMK1xw

--Eco-Hotel opens in Manhattan: USA Today reports, “The 1 Hotel brand opens its first hotel in New York City this week. The socially and environmentally-conscious hotel chain, developed by Sternlicht's Starwood Capital Group, debuted in Miami earlier this year.” http://usat.ly/1JMYXM7

--A struggling tourist train operator wants to store decommissioned oil trains in the Adirondacks, but locals and environmental groups are worried it could pollute the park. http://bit.ly/1INuMU2

--The Buffalo News’ editorial board wants New York state and federal officials to join Erie County in banning microbeads. http://bit.ly/1P6SVG3

--The Jiminy Peak ski resort, just over the New York border in Massachusetts is joining New York state’s ski resorts that added solar. http://bit.ly/1eTN7m8

--The Ginna nuclear facility opened its doors to neighbors. http://bit.ly/1IWF2LC

GOOD THURSDAY MORNING! You’ve no doubt noticed by now that we’ve changed our name from Capital New York to POLITICO New York. As you can see our newsletter is the same high-protein breakfast of energy news it always has been. Please let us know if you have stories, ideas, complaints or even if you're just lonely. We're always here at dgiambusso@politico.com and swaldman@politico.com. And if you like this letter, please tell a fellow energy and environment enthusiast.

OBAMA: IRAN DEAL IS CHOICE BETWEEN DIPLOMACY AND WAR—The Wall Street Journal: “President Barack Obama delivered a detailed defense of his pre-eminent foreign-policy objective, arguing Wednesday that a diplomatic agreement to restrict Iran’s nuclear program presents Congress with a fundamental choice between war and peace. Mr. Obama’s nearly hourlong speech at American University was aimed less at winning over critics of the Iran deal and more at giving Democrats a salable defense for supporting the agreement in the face of fierce political pressure. Congress is expected to vote on the deal in September. 'Congressional rejection of this deal leaves any U.S. administration that is absolutely committed to preventing Iran from getting a nuclear weapon with one option: another war in the Middle East,' Mr. Obama said. 'So let’s not mince words. The choice we face is ultimately between diplomacy or some form of war.'" http://on.wsj.com/1gb2vf9

IRAN SANITIZING NUCLEAR ACTIVITY—Bloomberg’s Josh Rogin and Eli Lake: “The U.S. intelligence community has informed Congress of evidence that Iran was sanitizing its suspected nuclear military site at Parchin, in broad daylight, days after agreeing to a nuclear deal with world powers. For senior lawmakers in both parties, the evidence calls into question Iran’s intention to fully account for the possible military dimensions of its current and past nuclear development. The International Atomic Energy Agency and Iran have a side agreement meant to resolve past suspicions about the Parchin site, and lawmakers' concerns about it has already become a flashpoint because they do not have access to its text.” http://bv.ms/1W1Xo1A

--Meanwhile, the public has little confidence in the Iran deal, a new Pew poll has found. http://pewrsr.ch/1HPd3aU

--U.S. Rep. John Katko of the Syracuse area says of the deal: “I think we turned our backs to Israel on this one." http://bit.ly/1INWtfu

--A.J.C. pans the deal: The American Jewish Committee deliberated for several weeks and met with Secretary of State John Kerry in New York but nonetheless warned in an op-ed Wednesday that “there are too many risks, concerns, and ambiguities for us to lend our support.” http://huff.to/1JMYtp8

--POLITICO reports: “President Barack Obama’s Iran deal looks increasingly likely to survive a challenge from congressional Republicans after several swing Democrats said they would back the deal just as the Senate sped toward recess on Wednesday. Minutes after Senate leaders locked in an agreement to begin debating the nuclear deal on Sept. 8, Independent Maine Sen. Angus King came to the floor to announce his support for the agreement. King’s decision will make it hard for GOP opponents to block the lifting of legislative sanctions when the Senate votes no later than Sept. 17.” http://politi.co/1JN0ku6

POWER PLANT CARBON HITS 27-YEAR LOW—The Associated Press: “Heat-trapping pollution from U.S. power plants hit a 27-year low in April, the Department of Energy announced Wednesday. A big factor was the long-term shift from coal to cleaner and cheaper natural gas, said Energy Department economist Allen McFarland. Outside experts also credit more renewable fuel use and energy efficiency. Carbon dioxide — from the burning of coal, oil and gas — is the chief greenhouse gas responsible for man-made global warming.” http://wapo.st/1gblF4s

TOWN WITHOUT A COAL PLANT—Bloomberg’s Josh Rogin and Eli Lake: “Roger Titchenell, mayor of Albright, West Virginia, a coal-plant town that lost its coal plant, isn't angry at the Environmental Protection Agency. He's not mad at FirstEnergy Corp. for closing the town's 63-year-old plant, blaming new EPA regulations. Titchenell's frustration is more mundane: He just wishes the company had paid for the new park fence he says it promised when it left town. Sometime this summer, the EPA will issue regulations that limit carbon dioxide emissions from power generation, pushing more of the country's 400 coal-fired power plants to close. The environmental and health benefits are undeniable, and overwhelming. The economic consequences for towns like Albright, where a coal plant can be one of the largest employers, are harder to predict. The agency's opponents warn of severe economic hardship. The experience of towns that have already been through a plant closing suggests something more complicated.” http://bv.ms/1TSra75

FOREST SERVICE RAISES PIPELINE CONCERNS—The Associated Press: “The U.S. Forest Service has raised hundreds of concerns about a proposed natural gas pipeline that would carve a 30-mile swath through national forests in Virginia and West Virginia. The written comments to federal regulators question why the proposed route of the Atlantic Coast Pipeline has to go through the George Washington and Monongahela national forests and raises similar worries cited by residents along the path of the 550-mile energy project. The 335 questions, comments and corrections were submitted to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission in late July by H. Thomas Speaks Jr., forest supervisor. The Forest Service already has given the builders of the proposed pipeline the green light to survey the forests.” http://wapo.st/1gb0fo4

OPINION: RENEWABLES OFFER NO BANG FOR BUCK—The Manhattan Institute’s Preston Cooper: “Advocates of renewable energy are touting a new statistic that 70 percent of new electricity generation capacity in the first half of 2015 was renewable. While this figure is technically true, it merits an asterisk. That 70 percent refers to how much energy power plants could produce if they were running at full power all the time, a metric called installed capacity. It does not mean that 70 percent of new energy generated in the first half of 2015 came from renewables. To find out how much energy the new power infrastructure will actually produce, we must look at the capacity factor for various types of energy. The capacity factor measures the ratio of the energy a power plant actually produces to how much it could produce if it were running at maximum power all the time. A higher factor indicates that a source of electricity is more likely to reach its full potential. Capacity factor may be thought of as how much bang you get for your installed megawatt.” http://bit.ly/1Dr5VVP

WORKING TO DISMANTLE CLEAN POWER PLAN—The New York Times’ Coral Davenport and Julie Hirschfield Davis: “In the early months of 2014, a group of about 30 corporate lawyers, coal lobbyists and Republican political strategists began meeting regularly in the headquarters of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, often, according to some of the participants, in a conference room overlooking the White House. Their task was to start devising a legal strategy for dismantling the climate change regulations they feared were coming from President Obama. The group—headed in part by Roger R. Martella Jr., a top environmental official in the George W. Bush administration, and Glaser, a prominent Washington lobbyist—was getting an early start. By the time Mr. Obama announced the regulations at the White House on Monday, the small group that had begun its work at the Chamber of Commerce had expanded into a vast network of lawyers and lobbyists ranging from state capitols to Capitol Hill, aided by Republican governors and congressional leaders. And their plan was to challenge Mr. Obama at every opportunity and take the fight against what, if enacted, would be one of his signature accomplishments to the Supreme Court.” http://nyti.ms/1MPOEaP

CA OIL SPILL WORSE THAN DISCLOSED—Fuel Fix’s Robert Grattan: “Plains All American raised Wednesday its worst-case estimate for how much oil spilled from its ruptured Santa Barbara pipeline last May. The spill left a stretch of beach covered in crude oil, and has since spawned an extensive cleanup effort as well as an investigations by regulators and other agencies. Houston-based Plains originally said that its worst case estimate for how much oil was spilled was roughly 2,400 barrels or 105,000 gallons. On Wednesday, in an appendix to a presentation released along with the company’s second-quarter financial report, Plains said that it was increasing that estimate by 41 percent to 3,400 barrels. The first estimate was based on an analysis done by taking the amount of oil that flowed through the pipe, called Line 901, between when it ruptured and when the pumps were shut off. Then the company added how much oil would have drained out due to gravity, Plains said.” http://bit.ly/1P7j5sp

FUTURES:

--Oil drops again: Nicole Friedman of the Wall Street Journal follows up her warning from Tuesday that oil prices would drop with news Wednesday that oil prices dropped.

“Light, sweet crude for September delivery settled down 59 cents, or 1.3%, to $45.15 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange, the lowest settlement since March 19. It briefly dropped below $45 a barrel. Brent, the global benchmark, slid 40 cents, or 0.8%, to $49.59 a barrel on ICE Futures Europe.” http://on.wsj.com/1gb1ALB

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