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By Marie J. French | 05/29/2018 10:04 AM EDT
GAS PIPELINE BUILDOUT — POLITICO's Marie J. French: Gov. Andrew Cuomo has blocked two major interstate pipelines through New York, but his administration has continued to allow natural gas utilities to build out their own new pipelines within the state to add new customers. The pipeline issue is wrapped up in election-year politics. Cuomo is facing a left-flank challenge from Cynthia Nixon, who supports a ban on any new natural gas pipelines or power plants. Cuomo's campaign has struggled to respond, initially indicating there was a moratorium on new pipelines before clarifying that the governor had not approved any new ones. The campaign noted that the governor had halted two major pipelines that had received federal approvals. Cuomo also has said he will not approve any new gas plants. But natural gas utilities in the state, regulated by the Cuomo-controlled Public Service Commission, continue to add new customers and build new pipelines, according to public filings and data. Environmental advocates want the PSC to push utilities toward heating alternatives like geothermal or air-source heat pumps to avoid emissions from natural gas. "We're seeing this spending on natural gas distribution infrastructure," said Karl Rábago, the executive director of the Pace Energy and Climate Center. "We're trying to increase the blood supply for this growth and we're also increasing dependence on it." Read more here.
ALGAE BLOOMS START — Syracuse Post-Standard's Glenn Coin: "As beaches open for the season on Memorial Day weekend, toxic algae blooms are starting to pop up, too . In the first weekly bulletin of the season, the state Department of Environmental Conservation has confirmed blue-green algae blooms in eight water bodies across the state, from Long Island to Western New York. Last year, 150 water bodies had toxic algae blooms for at least part of the summer or fall. Skaneateles Lake, the unfiltered source of drinking water for Syracuse, had its first bloom in memory. So far this year, most of the algae blooms are on Long Island and New York City, which is typical this early in the season because waters are warmer there than in Upstate New York. More blooms are expected around the state as temperatures rise over the next few months." Read more here.
JERSEY FIGHTS DRILLING PROPOSAL — The Washington Post's Darryl Fears: "The Trump administration's bid to expand offshore drilling sounds like a sweet deal when the oil and gas industry sells it: more jobs, increased local revenue and possibly an energy surplus that could lower home heating costs. But (Asbury Park) Mayor John Moor's opinion of the proposal to drill off the Atlantic Coast for the first time in decades is set: 'I don't think the risk is worth all the money in the world,' he said at City Hall, a few blocks from the popular beach boardwalk that is fueling his city's economic turnaround. 'You could stack billions atop of billions atop of billions and it's just not worth the risk.' Moor's unwavering view stretches the length of the 142-mile Jersey Shore, from northern municipalities such as Asbury Park to Cape May in the south. As Memorial Day and beach season approached, several mayors whose economies rely heavily on tourism said they are united in opposition to President Trump's plan." Read more here.
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AROUND NEW YORK:
— The cleanup of decades-old radioactive contamination at Knolls Atomic Power Lab in Niskayuna should be complete later this year.
— Silt dredged from the bottom of the Buffalo River was once considered too toxic, but after a cleanup is healthy enough to be used to build a new habitat on Buffalo's Unity Island.
— A research team at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory examined the price impacts of 50 percent renewables in 2030 for energy markets including the NYISO.
— A civic activist inked a deal to buy an industrial site in South Buffalo to build a new golf course.
— Suffolk County health officials have expanded an ongoing survey of water quality in private wells near the East Hampton Airport to include another well in Wainscott.
— Genesee County delayed voting on a measure to limit property tax exemptions for renewable energy projects.
— A plan to shut off the water on the American side of Niagara Falls to repair a bridge is still on the books, but the retiring chief of Western New York's state parks said there is no funding.
— A new stewardship program is aimed at educating the public to preserve the popular Blue Hole swimming area that has been put at risk in the past due to overuse.
— Hoosick Falls Mayor Rob Allen met face-to-face with EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt last week and reports back.
— Clearwater is seeking to raise money for its state case against the nuclear subsidy with a sail of the group's sloop on the Hudson.
— OPINION: Cornell professor Bob Howarth calls for passage of the Climate and Community Protection Act.
— Lake George is getting some state water quality money to help with an upgrade to its stormwater and wastewater collection systems.
— The Chautauqua Watershed Conservancy says it persuaded the DEC to limit an herbicide application in Chautauqua Lake to less than one-third of the original request.
— OPINION: Dennis Higgins says RGGI isn't working because of methane emissions from natural gas.
— Twenty-seven rabbits were captured in Ronkonkoma after being dumped near the train station, the Suffolk County SPCA said Monday in offering a $3,500 reward to find those responsible.
ACROSS THE RIVER:
— In Wildwood, the town is converting some of the vast sandy beach into a parking lot to rake in revenue and boost tourism.
— LETTER: Ed Potosnak, executive director of the New Jersey League of Conservation Voters, argues the state doesn't need gas from the PennEast pipeline.
— Some Jersey Shore towns are banning plastic bags or requiring merchants to impose a fee to discourage their use, and are even regulating the release of balloons.
EFFICIENCY TAX BREAK FIGHT — The New York Times' Patricia Cohen: "Over the past decade, hundreds of public projects have benefited from a federal incentive meant to encourage investments in energy-efficient technology. ... But a growing chorus of public agencies complain that they were prevented from benefiting from this same incentive in their own building projects. Conflicting interpretations of the law and how it should be applied, they say, have caused taxpayer-funded schools, prisons, military bases and libraries throughout the nation to lose out on millions of dollars in savings." Read more here.
ALBERTO MAKES LANDFALL — Bloomberg's Brian Sullivan: "Subtropical Storm Alberto lost strength as it came ashore near Laguna Beach in Florida, bringing heavy rains that threaten the U.S. South with economic losses of $1 billion." Read more here.
PEBBLE MINE INVESTOR BACKS OUT — The Washington Post's Juliet Eilperin and Steven Mufson: "The major financial investor in the Pebble Mine project has pulled out, Northern Dynasty Minerals Ltd. announced Friday, dealing a serious blow to the firm's plan to build a controversial gold and copper mine near rich salmon fishing grounds at Alaska's Bristol Bay." Read more here.
BATTERY PUSH IN CALIFORNIA — Quartz's Michael Cohen: "Every new home in California is going solar by 2020. If solar-energy companies have their way, those homes also will come with batteries." Read more here.
HOMES BUILT DESPITE LAVA RISK — The Wall Street Journal's Jim Carlton: A couple's "second home is one of hundreds threatened by renewed eruption at Hawaii's Kilauea volcano, which has already destroyed more than four dozen houses and other structures, threatened a geothermal power plant and forced the evacuation of hundreds of residents since May 3." Read more here.
FLOOD CITY — The Washington Post's Jeff Halverson: "Ruined once more, Ellicott City [in Maryland] endured an hours-long cloudburst that drowned the town Sunday. To witness this disaster unfold again, less than two years after the previous flood catastrophe, is nearly unthinkable." Read more here.
PG&E BLAMED FOR SOME FIRES — Bloomberg's Mark Chediak: "PG&E Corp.'s equipment was responsible for causing four of the smaller wildfires that tore through Northern California last year, according to the first report issued by state investigators." Read more here.
BIG BANKS CAN'T QUIT COAL — The New York Times' Emily Flitter: "Starting three years ago, the largest American banks vowed to cut back on lending to the coal industry. ... But the banks, it turns out, never actually promised to walk away from coal completely. And now, with coal companies enjoying a small resurgence under the Trump administration, banks are again embracing the industry." Read more here.https://subscriber.politicopro.com/settings
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