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POLITICO New York Energy: Water testing regs elusive -- CPV's other hires -- New Jersey nuke bill outcry

By Danielle Muoio and Marie J. French | 02/22/2018 09:58 AM EDT

WATER TESTING REGS ELUSIVE — POLITICO's Marie J. French: Gov. Andrew Cuomo has repeatedly highlighted the state's focus on water quality issues in recent months, traveling to the Finger Lakes to announce new planning efforts to combat toxic algae and to Long Island to focus on cleaning up a toxic plume there. But more than two years after a water contamination crisis in Hoosick Falls focused attention on the issue, the governor's administration has yet to implement new testing requirements for emerging contaminants in drinking water. New rules could be in place as soon as the end of this year following recommendations from a new advisory panel, according to the Department of Health. At least one advocate for clean drinking water says the state should be acting with more urgency to ensure that water is safe to drink. "When it comes to protecting water quality, it can't begin and end with a press release, it does not begin and end with a statement, we need to see follow-through from the governor's administration on this issue," said Environmental Advocates of New York's Liz Moran. Cuomo pushed a package of water quality measures last year, culminating in a budget appropriation of $2.5 billion for water infrastructure, new testing requirements for smaller water systems like the one serving Hoosick Falls and state authority to set new limits for toxic chemicals like the one found in the Rensselaer County village.

... Brad Hutton, the deputy commissioner for the Office of Public Health, noted that the state Drinking Water Quality Council has held two full-day meetings and a third is scheduled for next week. The council was set up to identify chemicals for which DOH should test. "We think we're continuing to play a leadership role here in the nation. No other state that I'm aware of has required all public water systems, regardless of size, to undertake testing for emerging contaminants," said Hutton. "We certainly think we're continuing our aggressive pace moving forward." Read more here.

— The city of Newburgh has put Gov. Andrew Cuomo, the federal government and two private companies on notice that it plans to file civil lawsuits over the contamination of its reservoir with a toxic chemical. Washington Lake, the drinking water source for about 30,000 residents, was contaminated with perfluorooctanesulfonic acid, or PFOS. The city plans to sue under a provision of the federal Clean Water Act and the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act. Read more here.

CPV's OTHER HIRES — POLITICO's Laura Nahmias: The Connecticut energy company lobbyist on trial in lower Manhattan for hiring the wife of a senior aide to Gov. Andrew Cuomo Joe Percoco made something of a habit out of hiring the family members of people who could be important to his company's projects. Lobbyist Galbraith "Braith" Kelly hired Joe Percoco's wife Lisa in 2012 to an alleged "low-show" job in exchange for Percoco's help as the company sought to build a power plant in the Hudson Valley. And he also hired a woman named Kerri Hamm, the young daughter of Sean McGarvey, president of the North American Building Trades' Unions. He made that hire at a time when Kelly's company, Competitive Power Ventures, often sought union and labor leaders' support for the company's proposed power plants in multiple states. McGarvey did not immediately respond to a request for comment. Read more here.

NUKE BILL OUTCRY — POLITICO's Danielle Muoio: The latest draft of a controversial nuclear subsidy bill is drawing widespread concern from wind and solar leaders who say the newest language would hurt programs designed to expand renewables in New Jersey. "I would say I'm somewhere between concerned and panic," said Lyle Rawlings, president and CEO of Advanced Solar Products. "Maybe blind panic." The bill, NJ S877 (18R) , would subsidize the state's nuclear plants, overhaul the solar market, and define the incentive program for offshore wind. It would also dictate whether Gov. Phil Murphy, a Democrat, can realize his aggressive clean energy agenda of moving the state to 100 percent renewable energy by 2050. The measure could come up for a vote Thursday during a joint hearing of the Senate Budget and Appropriations Committee and Assembly Telecommunications and Utilities Committee. It is already posted for a vote by the full Senate on Monday. "Changes are being made to the bill as part of ongoing discussions," Senate President Stephen Sweeney, the bill's sponsor, said in a statement late Wednesday. Read more here.

GOOD THURSDAY MORNING: Let us know if you have tips, story ideas or life advice. We're always here at dmuoio@politico.com and mfrench@politico.com.

And if you like this newsletter, please tell a friend and/or loved one they can sign up here.

AROUND NEW YORK:

— Claiming that odors released from a plastic manufacturing plant have forced them indoors, a group of Orangeburg residents has filed a class-action lawsuit against Aluf Plastics.

— Southold town officials are considering reviving a town committee devoted to exploring alternative sources of energy that was disbanded nearly four years ago.

— A coalition of environmental, labor and industry interests want the PSC to open up a process to accelerate the adoption of electric vehicles by engaging utilities.

— Now that roughly 270 tons of earth and trash have been removed from New Rochelle's sewers, officials say it's time to hire a contractor to repair and replace broken pipes.

— LETTER: The Urban Green Council's Russell Unger says New York City's energy efficiency scorecard system should be "tweaked, not trashed."

— NRDC is out with a report on the policy, regulatory, and program frameworks in Northeast states - New England plus New York - around air source heat pump adoption.

— Like some of Cuomo's economic development undertakings, the algae initiative has a Hunger Games feel to it: the 12 bodies of water to take part will compete for implementation funding.

— Watch out Vermont: New York is looking to boost its maple syrup industry by promoting syrup grown and processed within the state.

ACROSS THE RIVER:

— The Office of the State Comptroller said the Jersey City Municipal Utilities Authority increased sewer and water rates over an eight-year time period, a time where it had multimillion budget surpluses, after failing to conduct yearly financial reviews.

— Residents living near the DuPont pollution site in Pompton Lakes have higher rates of cancer and rare illnesses.

— Gov. Phil Murphy signed a bill requiring the state to uphold the goals of the Paris Accord into law.

OIL DATA DISPUTE — Mother Jones' Adam Federman: "Two senior U.S. Geological Survey officials have stepped down after Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke asked that they provide his office with confidential data on the National Petroleum Reserve-Alaska before it was released to the general public." Read more here.

CRUZ RALLIES FOR BIOFUELS — Reuters' Jarrett Renshaw: "Republican Senator Ted Cruz of Texas on Wednesday urged President Donald Trump's administration to push for an overhaul of the nation's biofuels policy, during a rally at a Pennsylvania oil refinery that blames its bankruptcy on the controversial regulation." Read more here.

NEW LIFE FOR NUKE PLANTS? — Bloomberg's Ari Natter: "The U.S. Energy Department is throwing its support behind a request by utilities to extend the life of some nuclear power reactors -- keeping them in operation for as long as 80 years." Read more here.

OIL PRICE IMPACT FLIPS — The Wall Street Journal's Greg Ip: "The effect of oil prices on the U.S. economy used to be straightforward: Higher was bad. Yet between 2014 and early 2016, as oil collapsed, growth slowed sharply. Since then oil has doubled, yet the economy has accelerated. Credit this to the emergence of the U.S. as a leading oil producer and, soon, net energy exporter." Read more here.

FERC WARNING ON PJM PLAN — UtilityDive's Gavin Bade: "The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission should 'think very hard' before it approves any proposal — like one pending in the PJM Interconnection — that would change which resources can set prices in wholesale energy markets, FERC Commissioner Cheryl LaFleur told a federal advisory group on Wednesday." Read more here.

UNPRECEDENTED WARM SPELL — The Washington Post's Angela Fritz: "Records were dropping on Wednesday amid what appears to be an unprecedented February ridge of high pressure and all the heat that comes along with it." Read more here.

CANADIAN OIL SANDS DITCHED — Bloomberg's Allison McNeely and Kevin Orland: "Canada's energy companies can't get any love, even from many Canadians. With pipeline, regulatory and political frustrations reaching new heights, the nation's energy stocks slumped to their lowest level in almost two years this month." Read more here.

To view online:
https://www.politico.com/states/new-york/newsletters/politico-new-york-energy/2018/02/22/water-testing-regs-elusive-036825

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