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POLITICO New York Energy: Fracktivists take up new fight -- Farmers struggle -- Radioactive waste near Niagara Falls

By Marie J. French and Danielle Muoio | 08/23/2018 09:59 AM EDT

PROGRAMMING NOTE: The New York Energy newsletter will not publish from Aug. 27-Sept. 3. Our next newsletter will publish Sept. 4. Please continue to follow New York energy issues here.

FRACKTIVISTS FIGHT GAS INFRASTRUCTURE — Journal News' Thomas Zambito: "It's known as 'Call Cuomo Mondays.' To kick off the week, activists from across the state phone the offices of Gov. Andrew Cuomo, urging him to take their side in opposing natural gas projects. Each week another project is in the crosshairs. It could be a campaign to end what activists call 'bomb trucks' used to transport natural gas across state roads. Or a push to prevent the Competitive Power Ventures natural gas plant from opening in Orange County. The same tactic was deployed several years ago to nudge the governor toward a ban on fracking, the controversial technique used to release gas from underground shale formations using a mix of chemicals, water and sand. Cuomo's decision to enact such a ban in December 2014, after years of debate and study, handed grassroots activists one of the biggest victories on the environmental front in decades. And now they're back." Read more here.

FARMERS STRUGGLE — The New York Times' Tyler Pager: "For the first three weeks of July, Martens prayed for rain. At the end of the month the rain finally arrived, but by then it was too late for some of his crops. For others, it was too much water, too quickly. The lack of rain, Mr. Martens said, will reduce his corn yield by about 20 percent, but the late-summer deluges damaged the quality of his spelt, a type of wheat. New York's extreme weather this summer, which began with a drought followed by flash flooding, has been enough to make it a difficult season for the state's farmers. But farmers say President Trump's trade war and his administration's crackdown on immigration have made a bad summer far worse." Read more here.

WASTE PILES AT NIAGARA FALLS — Buffalo News' Thomas J. Prohaska: "For the past three months, thousands of people every day have walked by piles of dirt at the entrance of Niagara Falls State Park on their way to the falls, one of the world's leading tourist attractions. What they couldn't have known was how close they were to radioactive waste. No warnings are clearly posted. There are only two tiny signs more than 100 feet inside a fence surrounding the site of a new entrance pathway and bus drop-off lane. The signs do not spell out radioactive waste but refer to TENORM — government shorthand for 'technologically enhanced naturally occurring radioactive material.' State officials confirmed to The Buffalo News that tests by the Department of Environmental Conservation found low levels of radioactivity, along with petroleum waste and traces of benzopyrene, a cancer-causing chemical found in coal tar, cigarette smoke and vehicle exhaust. 'All compromised soil has been contained and there is no impact to health and safety,' Randy Simons, spokesman for the State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation, said in an email to The News." Read more here.

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AROUND NEW YORK:

— Huntington Republicans have filed petitions for state and town candidates to get an independent ballot line called "Stop LIPA" to capitalize on the town's fight against the utility over property tax assessment issues at the Northport power plant.

— The DEC has finally convened a task force on ocean acidification that was established by legislation in 2016. The first meeting is planned for sometime this fall. The enabling legislation says a report is due on Dec. 31, so they better hurry!

— CHARTER WATCH: The PSC chair issues a one-commissioner order extending a deadline until Sept. 10 for Charter Communications to challenge its order revoking merger approval and ordering the company out of the state, as talks continue.

— Montauk's Camp Hero State Park could soon become an overnight destination — for anyone bold enough to defy its somewhat spooky reputation.

— Hempstead Town workers on Wednesday evening were removing hundreds of dead fish from Talfor Boat Basin in East Rockaway, town Councilman Anthony D'Esposito said.

— Rep. Elise Stefanik, a Republican, says she opposes a proposed Trump administration rollback of the Clean Power Plan.

— Just a few residents in Moreau will make the call on whether to extend a key sewer line, which could change the course of development in the area.

— Some residents believe an increase in boat traffic and noise has occurred this summer on Glen Lake, and they would like to see boat patrols.

ACROSS THE RIVER:

— Atlantic City Electric has filed a rate case with the Board of Public Utilities that would raise rates for South Jersey residents by $11.51 a month.

— Three New Jersey beaches were under water quality advisories earlier Wednesday, and though the warnings were lifted, medical waste continues to wash ashore.

TRUMP PLAN WON'T SAVE COAL — The New York Times' Brad Plumer: "America's ailing coal industry was buoyed on Tuesday when the Environmental Protection Agency unveiled a proposal to relax pollution regulations on coal-fired power plants. President Trump traveled to West Virginia to tout the planned measure, telling supporters, 'We're putting our great coal miners back to work.' Yet the reality on the ground for the nation's coal industry remains bleak. Even the Trump administration's own numbers suggest that its latest proposal won't reverse the sharp decline of coal power, which has been crushed by competition from cheaper natural gas and renewable energy over the past decade." Read more here.

NEW MEXICO LOOKS TO CALI — The Associated Press' Susan Bryan: "New Mexico's largest electric utility is asking state regulators for approval to join a wholesale trading market that allows participants in several western states to buy and sell energy to better balance supply and demand." Read more here.

HAWAII BRACES — The Wall Street Journal' Zusha Elinson: "Hawaii closed schools and some government offices Wednesday as is it prepared for a hurricane with sustained winds of 155 miles an hour." Read more here.

FRACKING WATER SPECULATION — The Wall Street Journal's Christopher M. Matthews: "Some investors see fortunes to be made in the U.S.'s hottest oil field — by speculating in water, not crude. Fledgling companies, many backed by private equity, are rushing to help shale drillers deal with one of their trickiest problems: what to do with the vast volumes of wastewater that are a byproduct of fracking wells." Read more here.

MERKEL HIT ON COAL — Bloomberg's Brian Parkin and William Wilkes: "Germany's states are upping pressure on Chancellor Angela Merkel to keep coal-fired power for as long as 30 years as the nation approaches a deadline for setting an exit date from the fossil fuel. Merkel's administration is committed to shuttering about 120 lignite and hard-coal plants to cut emissions and plans to set a final exit point in October. As the deadline nears, six states where coal power is concentrated have banded together to keep an extended lifeline for the stations." Read more here.

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