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POLITICO New York Energy: Obama plan changes local nuclear odds; New York's Iran politics

By David Giambusso and Scott Waldman

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CLEAN POWER PLAN’S UNCERTAIN IMPACT ON NUCLEAR—POLITICO New York’s Scott Waldman: “The Obama administration’s clean power plan could give new life to New York’s struggling nuclear energy industry and make it harder to shut aging plants like Indian Point, advocates argue. Or, if nuclear opponents are to be believed, the plan could lead to the shuttering of nuclear facilities by making it easier to replace them with wind and solar plants throughout the state. The Clean Power Plan released by the Obama administration last week calls for New York to reduce power plant emissions by about 20 percent by 2030. And while the Cuomo administration already has begun a major push to double the amount of renewables connected to the grid, the state does not yet have plans to replace nuclear facilities with other carbon-free power sources. The federal plan could change that. It calls for a 28-percent increase in renewables, up from 22 percent in earlier drafts. New renewable energy sources count toward the state’s goals, which means New York has an incentive to build them.”

SCHUMER’S IRAN DECISION—POLITICO New York’s David Giambusso: Senator Charles Schumer's announcement that he will oppose President Obama's nuclear deal with Iran drew equal parts praise and scorn from within his own party Friday, indicating the treacherous political calculations involved in a deal Israel has squarely opposed. Schumer, in a lengthy post on Medium, outlined his opposition to the deal that has divided Democrats eager for peace but wary of Iran's intentions. Under the accord, punishing economic sanctions on Iran would be lifted in exchange for more rigorous inspections of its nuclear energy program. Obama has said the deal will ensure the Islamic state does not develop a nuclear weapon and cast support for the pact as a choice between diplomacy and war.

FOR NOW, PROPANE FRACKING LOOKS LIKE A LONGSHOT—Gannett’s Tom Wilber: “A heavily promoted plan to work around the state’s fracking ban in the Town of Barton is long on legal backing but short on just about everything else needed to make it happen. Tioga Energy Partners LLC — the entity that intends to jump-start shale gas development in the Southern Tier — lacks a driller, a financial security backer, a track record, and a completed application to state regulators, according to a review by the Press & Sun-Bulletin. Still, the proposal has provided plenty of fuel to rekindle New York’s fracking debate after a group of landowners leased 53 acres to Tioga Energy to develop a well using propane gel rather than water as a base for hydraulic fracturing.”


--Indian Point has begun an ad campaign to tout its emissions-free power that partially focuses on asthma and minority communities.

--A New York City-based nonprofit is bringing solar to low-income customers in Troy.

--Opponents of the Constitution pipeline are hosting an “emergency action” protest in front of the Department of Environmental Conservation on Tuesday.

--Broadband internet needs extensive expansion upstate, where it has been slow to be implemented.

OK, MONDAY: Shake the sand from your flip-flops, we’re back for another week at POLITICO New York Energy. Despite our recent “rebrand,” 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 and And if you like this letter, please tell a friend.

OIL EXPORTS GAIN MOMENTUM—The Wall Street Journal’s Amy Harder: “Big voices in the oil industry and Congress now support a move that would have been unthinkable not long ago: opening the U.S. oil industry to exports. The U.S. has long pushed for liberalized trade, with U.S.-produced crude oil being the biggest exception since the early 1970s, when the shock of the 1973 Arab oil embargo led Congress to ban oil exports under nearly all circumstances. The only other U.S. products banned under the same regulations are a type of tree found in Western North America called Western red cedar and live horses for slaughter shipped by sea. The House now looks likely to vote as early as September to lift the oil-export ban with Senate action anticipated early next year, which would mark a milestone few saw coming.”

SHELL DROPS OUT OF ALEC—The Washington Post’s Stephen Mufson: “Shell Oil will not renew its membership in the American Legislative Exchange Council, citing differences with the controversial corporate lobbying group over the issue of climate change. "ALEC advocates for specific economic growth initiatives, but its stance on climate change is clearly inconsistent with our own," said Curtis Smith, a spokesman for Shell. "We have long recognized both the importance of the climate challenge and the critical role energy has in determining quality of life for people across the world. As part of an ongoing review of memberships and affiliations, we will be letting our association with ALEC lapse when the current contracted term ends early next year." Founded in the 1970s, ALEC tries to connect corporate lobbyists and executives with hundreds of state legislators across the country over key pieces of legislation.”

OPINION: CLEAN POWER PLAN GOOD FOR CHILDREN’S HEALTH—Health and Human Services’ Secretary Sylvia Mathews Burwell for the Huffington Post: “Last week, President Obama shared an old proverb with an audience in Nairobi, Kenya: "We have not inherited this land from our forebears; we have borrowed it from our children." There are many reasons to be committed to taking care of our environment, but as a parent, I have two very important ones: my son and daughter. Their lives, and their health, are so important to me, as all children's are. When we think about the choices we make for our kids, from healthy food to fun exercise, it's important to remember that the quality of air they breathe is just as important. We are shaping our world for them to live in, not just in some distant future, but today. That's why President Obama and our colleagues across the federal government just finalized a rule that will help leave the planet safer and healthier for our children and our grandchildren. The Clean Power Plan is a historic step in cutting carbon pollution from the largest source of emissions in our country.”

ARIZONA WILL SEE RENEWABLE GAIN UNDER CLEAN POWER PLAN—The Arizona Republic’s Emery Cowan: “After a few days to digest the plan, energy experts in the state were hesitant to call the plan a complete game-changer for renewables. They did say, however, that the final document, even more so than last year’s draft, contains several promising signs for the development of wind and solar power in Arizona. “The future for renewables in Arizona is pretty bright,” said Eric Massey, director of the air quality division at the Arizona Department of Environmental Quality, which will be the main player in creating the state’s plan to meet the new clean power rules. “Renewable energies and zero emissions energies have a bit of a leg up in ways now than they might have had in the past.”

KILLING THE CLEAN POWER PLAN: The Hill’s Timothy Cama reports the legal battles against the president’s plan are already underway. “With Congress largely powerless to stop the rule, opponents of Obama’s push say the court system is their only hope at beating back the carbon limits until a new president takes over the Oval Office in 2017.”

WALKING IS OBSOLETE: At long last the plague of having to place one foot in front of another in order to achieve forward motion has been rendered moot by the “WalkCar,” a motorized board the size of a laptop that can scoot would-be walkers around at speeds of up to 7 miles an hour. The current weight limit on the WalkCar is 265 lbs. which we imagine will have to be modified once the machine gains in popularity.

BERKSHIRE NEARING BIGGEST DEAL YET—The Wall Street Journal: “Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway Inc. is nearing a deal to buy Precision Castparts Corp., according to people familiar with the matter, in what could be the conglomerate’s largest takeover ever. Given typical premiums, the price tag for the industrial company, which had a market value of $26.7 billion as of Friday’s close, could exceed $30 billion. At that size, the deal would rank as Berkshire’s largest ever and represent the latest megamerger in a robust year for deal making. A deal could be announced as soon as next week, the people said. Berkshire is one of Precision Castparts’ largest shareholders, with a 3% stake as of March 30. Founded in 1949, the Portland, Ore. company makes components such as fasteners and turbine blades for aircraft companies including Airbus Group SE and Boeing Co. It also makes equipment for power stations and the oil-and-gas industry. The company generates around half its annual sales of $10 billion from big aircraft and engine makers.”

PICTURES OF THE DAY: Turkey’s coal boom in stark images.

ARE WE DOOMED? Robert Samuelson of the Washington Post posits, even if everything goes right with President Obama’s clean power plan, it still might not be enough to stave off climate disaster.

WIND ESSENTIAL TO CLEAN POWER PLAN—EnergyWire’s Behr: “A strong, sustained growth of U.S. wind power, a cornerstone of the Obama administration's Clean Power Plan, is achievable but faces stiff economic and political headwinds, according to government and private analyses. The plan issued Monday predicts that zero-carbon renewable energy -- primarily wind and solar power -- will supply 28 percent of total generation capacity in 2030, the compliance period's end year. The draft rule a year ago projected 22 percent as the estimated renewable power capacity share, and the higher contribution from renewables is key to the deeper cut in greenhouse gas emissions that the new plan requires (ClimateWire, Aug. 4). The expansion of wind power in the United States has hinged on a crucial federal tax incentive that Congress has not renewed. The federal production tax credit (PTC) has allowed wind generation to compete with fossil fuels and nuclear power.”

OIL TRAIN CONTROLS’ SLOW IMPLEMENTATION—The New York Times’ Ron Nixon: “The majority of freight railroads and passenger trains will not be able to meet a year-end deadline to install technology that prevents trains from exceeding speed limits and helps avoid collisions, the Federal Railroad Administration said Friday in a report to Congress. Congress set a deadline of Dec. 31 for freight and commuter rail companies to install the technology, which is known as positive train control, after a California passenger train derailed in 2008, killing 25 people. But the report, which was provided to the House and Senate Appropriations Committees, said few railroads were on schedule to meet the deadline.”

OIL MARKET TO STAY LOW FOR YEARS—The Wall Street Journal’s Nicole Friedman: “The oil market is signaling that prices could stay lower for longer, delivering a fresh blow to hard-hit energy exploration-and-production companies. Benchmark U.S. oil futures for September delivery are nearing the six-year low hit in March. But contracts for delivery in later years have taken an even bigger hit, with prices for 2016 and 2017 already trading below their March lows. That indicates that investors, traders and oil companies see the global glut of crude oil persisting beyond this year. Companies making long-term investment decisions rely on the prices of futures contracts one or more years in advance. Producers trade futures and options contracts for coming years to lock in prices for the oil they plan to sell in those years.”


--Oil heads to $40: The oil glut can’t and it won’t and it don’t stop. The Wall Street Journal reports benchmark oil prices at home and abroad sunk to multi-month lows on Friday as production shows no sign of retreating.

“Light, sweet crude for September delivery settled down 79 cents, or 1.8%, to $43.87 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange, the lowest settlement since March 17, when prices hit a six-year low of $43.46 a barrel. The contract fell 6.9% on the week. Brent, the global benchmark, fell 91 cents, or 1.8%, to $48.61 a barrel on ICE Futures Europe, the lowest level since Jan. 28. Prices also registered a 6.9% weekly loss, the largest one-week percentage decline since March.”

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