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POLITICO New York Energy: Pipeline battle continues; Jersey's master plan

By David Giambusso and Scott Waldman

Good morning! Only POLITICO New York 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 and we'll set you up for trial access. We’ll send the same newsletter to non-Pro subscribers at 10 a.m. Thank you for reading.

PIPELINE OPPONENTS COULD FILE LAWSUIT—POLITICO New York’s Scott Waldman: Opponents of a planned natural gas pipeline upstate expect to file a legal challenge if the state issues a water permit allowing the pipeline to bring fracked gas into New York from Pennsylvania. More than 100 protesters held a press conference and rally in front of the Department of Environmental Conservation's office in Albany on Tuesday, demanding that the state deny water quality permits for the Constitution pipeline, which would run about 120 miles from Pennsylvania into New York's Southern Tier.

JERSEY GREENS URGE CHRISTIE TO DO MORE—POLITICO New Jersey’s David Giambusso: New Jersey hasn't updated its energy master plan since 2011 and, as many speakers pointed out during a Board of Public Utilities hearing in Newark on Tuesday, the world has changed dramatically since then. But as the state begins to solicit public comment on an updated plan, it is clear Gov. Chris Christie has not endeared himself to New Jersey's environmental and clean-energy communities. Speakers at the first hearing on an updated energy plan were nearly unanimous in urging him to do more to encourage clean energy and discourage fossil fuel growth in the state.


--Rep. Hakeem Jeffries will host a town hall meeting Thursday in Brighton Beach at the Shorefront Y, 3300 Coney Island Avenue, 7 p.m., to discuss the Iran nuclear deal.

--The state Department of Health will look at the gelled propane fracking proposal.

--A bad substation cable knocked out power in Saratoga Springs.

--An Albany man has been charged in a fatal accident that killed a prominent Albany-area environmentalist.

--The Watertown Daily Times’ editorial board wants to see some of the programs for low-income residents under the Reforming Energy Vision plan expanded to the North Country.

GOOD WEDNESDAY MORNING: How’s tricks, energy readers? 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 and/or loved one.

OH NO YOU DIDN’T—The Wall Street Journal’s Amy Harder and Dan Frosch: “Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Gina McCarthy apologized Tuesday for a mine spill in Colorado that her agency caused last week and planned to travel to the area Wednesday, amid increasing criticism from lawmakers about the EPA’s response. Ms. McCarthy said at a news conference in Washington that she was still learning about what happened, responding to a question about whether the EPA was reviewing changes in how it cleans up old mines. ‘I don’t have a complete understanding of anything that went on in there,’ she said. ‘If there is something that went wrong, we want to make sure it never goes wrong again.’”

STAT OF THE DAY: Gas is 82 cents cheaper than it was a year ago, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration.

CLINTON DOUBLES DOWN ON IRAN DEAL SUPPORT—CNN: “Democratic frontrunner Hillary Clinton strengthened her support for President Barack Obama's proposed nuclear deal with Iran on Monday, saying that ‘all bets are off’ if the deal is struck down. ‘I'm hoping that the agreement is finally approved and I'm telling you if it's not, all bets are off,’ Clinton told supporters during a campaign stop in New Hampshire. Clinton said that rejecting the deal would be a ‘very bad signal to send in a quickly moving and oftentimes dangerous world.’”

NUCLEAR PLANT CLOSURE CAUSES BAD BLOOD IN WISCONSIN—The New York Times’ Julie Bosman: “The owner of the plant, after making a surprise announcement in October 2012 that it would be decommissioned, began the decades-long process of dismantling its buildings and removing the used nuclear fuel from the site. Since May 2013, the plant has been offline. The shutdown has angered many people in this community, some of whom have lived alongside the Kewaunee plant since it opened in 1974. Far from applauding its demise, they have accused Dominion, the plant’s owner, of deserting them and taking away the revenue and hundreds of jobs that long sustained this town. The dispute has now escalated to include the promise of a lawsuit by Dominion, arguments over the value of the property where the power plant sits and ominous warnings from local officials that services in the entire county could suffer as a result of an anticipated financial shortfall.”

CLEAN POWER CAUSES BAD BLOOD IN VIRGINIA—The Washington Post’s Jenna Portnoy: “First came Medicaid expansion. Then same-sex marriage. Now Virginia House Republicans are fighting another policy of the Obama White House that Democrats are cheering. The GOP-dominated House will join more than a dozen state legislatures in an effort to give lawmakers the power to block the implementation of federal climate change regulations finalized last week.”

CLEAN POWER’S GRID EFFECT: POLITICO senior policy reporter Darren Samuelsohn interviewed Philip Moeller, FERC’s longest-serving commissioner, about the likely impact of the new rule on the reliability of the nation’s grid [PRO].

MAP OF THE DAY: The Washington Post maps out the nation’s energy sources in one glorious, interactive map.

REMOVING CO2 FROM THE AIR—Quartz’s John Shepherd: “If we have put too much CO2 into the air, wouldn’t it make sense to find ways to remove it again? Well, yes: it would. But sadly it isn’t likely to be easy or cheap and, according to new research, it isn’t an adequate ‘solution’ to the problems of climate change. The possible ‘carbon removal’ techniques are very diverse. They include growing trees on land or algae in the sea and capturing and burying some of the carbon they have taken from the atmosphere. There are also engineered solutions that “scrub” CO2 directly from the air, using chemical absorbents, and then recover, purify, compress and liquefy it, so that it can be buried deep underground. That sounds difficult and expensive, and at the moment, it is.”

OIL SANDS PRODUCERS HIT HARD—InsideClimate’s Elizabeth Douglass: “Canadian oil sands producers, facing a double whammy of low oil prices and higher taxes in Alberta, are slashing spending, suspending production, cutting jobs and halting shareholder dividends. They are fighting the same market forces that are putting pressure on the entire oil industry, but face even more hurdles than the oil majors. Oil sands projects are among the industry’s most expensive endeavors, so they need sustained, higher oil prices. When prices are low—or even very volatile—companies risk spending billions of dollars to get oil that’s not profitable to sell. And oil prices have plunged by more than half since mid-2014. Friday’s close was $43.87 a barrel. Western Canada Select, the price marker for harder-to-produce bitumen from the tar sands, closed at $26.17, or $17.70 a barrel below the U.S. oil price.”

JAPAN REPOWERS NUCLEAR REACTOR—The New York Times’ Jonathan Soble: “For more than four years since the nuclear meltdowns in Fukushima in 2011, Japan has been debating whether it should permanently abandon a technology that went so disastrously wrong but that for years was seen as essential to its economy. Governments have offered differing answers. The public has sent confusing signals.But on Tuesday, the country took what appeared to be a decisive step toward resurrecting the nuclear industry and ending a de facto freeze on the use of atomic power, as an electric utility restarted one of dozens of reactors that were taken offline after the Fukushima disaster. The reactor at the Sendai Nuclear Power Plant, in Kagoshima Prefecture, was the first to return to service since government regulators introduced upgraded safety standards two years ago. Most of Japan’s 48 operable commercial nuclear reactors were shut down soon after the meltdowns at Fukushima, and none have operated since 2013.”

HOW WIND AND SOLAR WILL BLOW UP THE POWER MARKETS—GreenTech Media’s Bentham Paulos: “Many people are asking how much of our power we can get from wind and solar. With ongoing double-digit growth rates, optimists are starting to get very excited. Pessimists are looking for flaws in the argument. And pragmatists are making plans for accommodating wind and solar in the power mix. Firmly in the optimist camp is Mark Jacobson, the Stanford professor who has been modeling a ‘wind-water-sun’ system to see what it would take to run states and countries on just those three resources. In the pessimist camp would certainly be some big players in the fossil industry, including ExxonMobil CEO Rex Tillerson, who recently told shareholders that the company isn’t getting into renewables because ‘we choose not to lose money on purpose.’”

SHADE BALLS, THE MOVIE: Twitter was agog with the news of California’s latest weapon in a harrowing drought: shade balls. These are large plastic balls dumped by the truckload into California reservoirs that prevent the sun from causing harmful chemical reactions with chlorine and bromide. They also prevent evaporation. This video courtesy of Vox’s Brad Plumer.

ADMITTEDLY GEEKY TWITTER SCIENCE JOKE OF THE DAY: From none other than Neil deGrasse Tyson. "A Geeky joke I'm compelled to share: In Chemistry class the cylinders know more than you do because they're already graduated."

LET IT FLOW: OPEC reached new highs in oil production as Iran puts the most crude on the market since 2012. Bloomberg reports OPEC “raised output by 100,700 barrels a day to 31.5 million last month, the group said in its monthly market report, citing external sources. This increase came even as Saudi Arabia, which often curbs output toward the end of peak summer demand, told OPEC it cut production by the most in almost a year.”


--Oil hits six-year low: China’s devaluation of the Yuan combined with renewed output from Iran and unrelenting output here conspired to give oil futures one of its worst days since the depths of the 2009 financial crisis, the Wall Street Journal reports.

“Light, sweet crude for September delivery fell $1.88, or 4.2%, to settle at $43.08 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange. It was the largest one-day percentage loss in more than a month and sent U.S. oil to its lowest settlement since March 11, 2009, when the U.S. economy was still reeling from the financial crisis. Brent crude, the global benchmark, fell $1.23, or 2.4%, to $49.18 a barrel on ICE Futures Europe. It is within $3 of its six-year low set in January.”

--Natural gas did OK: Futures gained slightly, the Journal reports.

“The front-month September contract rallied in the afternoon, settling up 0.2 cent, or 0.1%, to $2.844 a million British thermal units on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Prices are still firmly locked into the 23-cent range in which they have settled for two months.”

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