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POLITICO New York Energy: Gas tax bill on the table, Utica chip maker growing

By David Giambusso and Scott Waldman

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GAS TAX BILL PROPOSED — POLITICO New York’s Scott Waldman: A proposed new bill could bring a new form of gas tax to New York, in an effort to push consumers to cut carbon emissions. A bill sponsored by two Democratic lawmakers, Assemblyman Kevin Cahill of Dutchess County and Sen. Kevin Parker of Brooklyn, would increase fees on fossil fuels — including coal, natural gas, petroleum products, renewable biomass and anything else that emits carbon dioxide, methane, nitrous oxide or other greenhouse gases when combusted. The measure is structured to influence consumer behavior to reduce fossil fuel use, Cahill said.

UTICA-BOUND CHIP MAKER IS GROWING — POLITICO New York’s Will Brunelle: With its plans to invest $2 billion in a chip fab on a SUNY campus there, a little-known semiconductor company is being touted as "transformative" for Utica. But even Gov. Andrew Cuomo's fanfare underscored AMS' obscurity when he mistakenly said the Austrian company hailed from Australia. The 34-year-old company actually hails from Styria, in southern Austria, and unlike household brands like IBM, Samsung and General Electric, AMS doesn’t manufacture consumer goods. It focuses instead on primarily internal, electronic sensors that support a vast array of industries. Despite a steady growth rate and respectable annual revenues, AMS isn’t a major player in the semiconductor and microelectronics industries. The company reported revenue of about $523 million for 2014, an increase of 23 percent over the roughly $426 million reported for 2013.

BOOKER BOOS OFFSHORE DRILLING — POLITICO New Jersey’s David Giambusso: Applications for seismic testing in the Atlantic Ocean woefully underestimate the impacts the process could have on marine life up and down the East Coast, and should be rejected, U.S. Sen. Cory Booker said in a letter Friday to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.


--The Binghamton Press & Sun-Bulletin editorial board commiserates with the region’s secession movement in the wake of Cuomo’s fracking decision and lack of substantial economic planning.

--Here’s video from the rally:

--Tom Falcone is LIPA’s new chief of staff, Mark Harrington of Newsday reports. Falcone was LIPA’s CFO. the move comes as the state continues to look for a CEO.

--PSEG Long Island customers can now send a digital photo of their meters instead of waiting for it to be read.

--Wasps to the rescue: Tiny, non-stinging wasps are being deployed in Dutchess County to kill emerald ash borers, a tiny beetle that is killing trees upstate. The Poughkeepsie Journal reports.

--A town on Long Island placed limits on solar panels.

--Officers rescued a bird from a fuel platform off of Long Island.

--Attorney General Eric Schneiderman is leading a coalition of seven states and the District of Columbia that plan to defend the federal Environmental Protection Agency’s new clean water rule against legal challenge.

--Tom Libous, once the Senate’s biggest fracking supporter, moved to have a judge throw out his felony conviction.

MONDAY, MONDAY: 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. Here’s a handy sign-up link:

OBAMA USES ALASKA AS CLIMATE CHANGE BACKDROP—The New York Times’ Julie Hirschfeld-Davis: “President Obama will travel to Alaska on Monday to call for urgent and aggressive action to tackle climate change, capitalizing on a poignant tableau of melting glaciers, crumbling permafrost and rising sea levels to illustrate the immediacy of an issue he hopes to make a central element of his legacy. But during a three-day trip choreographed to lend spectacular visuals and real-world examples to Mr. Obama’s message on global warming, he will pay little heed to the oil and gas drilling offshore that he allowed to go forward just this month, a move that activists say is an unsavory blot on an otherwise sterling climate record.”

--”Obama’s trip to Alaska’s Arctic on Monday will likely reverberate much farther south, on the 2016 presidential campaign trail, where global warming is expected to emerge as a key issue.”

US LOSES GROUND IN MELTING ARCTIC RESOURCES—The New York Times’ Steven Lee Myers: “With warming seas creating new opportunities at the top of the world, nations are scrambling over the Arctic — its territorial waters, transit routes and especially its natural resources — in a rivalry some already call a new Cold War. When President Obama travels to Alaska on Monday, becoming the first president to venture above the Arctic Circle while in office, he hopes to focus attention on the effects of climate change on the Arctic. Some lawmakers in Congress, analysts, and even some government officials say the United States is lagging behind other nations, chief among them Russia, in preparing for the new environmental, economic and geopolitical realities facing the region.”

MERKLEY A YES ON IRAN—NPR: "Oregon Sen. Jeff Merkley announced on Sunday that he will support the White House-backed nuclear deal with Iran. Merkley becomes the 31st Senate Democrat to endorse the agreement publicly, leaving the Obama administration just three votes shy of having enough votes to sustain a veto of a congressional resolution of disapproval — that is, of being able to advance the deal over Republican objections. In a statement Sunday, Merkley said the agreement is 'the best available strategy to block Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon.'"

GERMANY WIND FARM GETS FUNDING—Bloomberg’s Alex Webb and Tino Andresen: RWE AG, Germany’s largest power producer, has found potential partners to invest in the construction of the $2 billion Galloper wind farm off the Suffolk coast of England. Germany’s Siemens AG and U.K.’s Green Investment Bank are two of the three partners, two people familiar with the matter said, asking not to be identified as the discussions are private and may still fall apart. Both Siemens and Green Investment Bank declined to comment. RWE, which is to build and operate the 336-megawatt facility, is seeking a final investment decision on partners to share the project costs by as early as October, Judith Erb, a spokeswoman for the Essen-based company, said Friday without identifying any of the hoped-for partners. RWE is hoping to reduce its stake in the 1.3 billion-pound project to 25 percent from 37.5 percent.

VIDEO OF THE DAY: Behold the man with no apparent fear of heights who climbed to the top of a wind turbine to sunbathe.

UTILITY SCALE SOLAR GROWS 31 TIMES IN A DECADE—GreenTech Media’s Stephen Lacey: There was a moment in 2013 and early 2014 when utility-scale solar hit a snag in America. California utilities were reaching the upper limits of their renewable energy mandates, concentrating solar power costs were not coming down as expected, and investors had turned their attention to the booming residential PV market. But that moment passed fairly quickly. Moving into the second half of 2014, utilities all around the country signed an unprecedented number of contracts for utility-scale PV projects -- in large part because the technology had gotten so cheap. California had largely dominated the market since 2010, but suddenly utilities in Colorado, Minnesota, Utah and Kentucky were inking deals for large projects below the price of natural gas, completely separate from state mandates.

GREEN CHEERIOS: General Mills, one of the world’s largest food companies, has committed to cutting its greenhouse gas emissions by 28 percent within 10 years, the Associated Press reports. The food giant will invest $100 million in efficiencies and emission reductions throughout its operations, from farm to supermarket. Aside from cereals like Cheerios, General Mills also makes Haagen Dazs ice cream and Progresso soups.

GAS FOUND OFF COAST OF EGYPT — The Associated Press: “The Italian energy company Eni S.p.A. announced on Sunday that it has discovered a 'supergiant' natural gas field off the coast of Egypt, describing it as the “largest ever” found in the Mediterranean Sea. Eni’s chief executive, Claudio Descalzi, met on Saturday in Cairo with President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi of Egypt, according to Mr. Sisi’s office. Eni said the discovery, made in its Zohr prospect “in the deep waters of Egypt,” could hold a potential 30 trillion cubic feet of gas over an area of about 40 square miles.”

INDIAN OIL EYES $3B PETROCHEMICAL PLANT IN IRAN — Bloomberg: Indian Oil Corp. is seeking to build a $3 billion petrochemicals plant in Iran, according to people with direct knowledge of the matter. The plan hinges on assurances from Iran that the 1 million-ton-a-year project will have access to cheap natural gas as feedstock, said the people, who asked not to be identified because the information isn’t public. A company spokesman didn’t respond to requests for comment by phone, text message and e-mail.

JAPAN IS COAL’S GREAT HOPE—Politico’s Darius Dixon: The world’s attention fell on a Japanese power plant yesterday, as technicians turned on a nuclear reactor for the first time since it was shut down following the catastrophic 2011 Fukushima disaster. It’s scheduled to be the first of dozens to start up again, despite public opposition to reviving nuclear power in the earthquake-prone nation. To many in the energy and climate world, however, Japan’s nuclear issue is just a sideshow. A bigger concern is Japan’s growing role in keeping alive an energy source that President Barack Obama and Japan’s allies elsewhere have been fighting to bury: coal.


--Oil takes off: Oil futures closed out last week on a high note, Nicole Friedman of the Wall Street Journal reports.

“On Friday, light, sweet crude for October delivery settled up $2.66, or 6.2%, to $45.22 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange, the highest settlement since Aug. 4. Prices climbed 12% on the week, the biggest one-week percentage gain since February 2009. Brent, the global benchmark, rose $2.49, or 5.2%, to $50.05 a barrel on ICE Futures Europe. The contract rose 10% this week.”

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