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POLITICO New York Energy: Cuomo's GE non-answer; slowing storms

By David Giambusso and Scott Waldman

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CUOMO SIGNALS UNLIKELINESS OF FURTHER CLEAN-UP PUSH — POLITICO New York’s Scott Waldman: For months, municipalities along the Hudson River have called on General Electric to continue its cleanup of the river, which the company used as a dumping ground for decades. At the same time, many officials in the region have been asking Gov. Andrew Cuomo to pressure the company to remove more of the polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) it put in the Hudson from the 1940s through 1970s. The administration did not publicly respond to those requests. Last week, the groups calling for a cleaner Hudson seemingly got their answer from the governor. On Thursday, Cuomo did not indicate whether he would ask GE to conduct additional dredging, as advocates have been demanding. When asked by reporters if he would request that GE leave behind key equipment used to remove pollution from sediment, which the company is dismantling, he avoided the question.

NEW YORK TIMES EDITORIAL BOARD ON GE’S HUDSON CLEANUP: “The river is still contaminated and it’s still General Electric’s fault. Toxic industrial waste is still flowing down nearly 200 miles of river from north of Albany to New York City. And though the company has spent the last six years digging up the PCBs that it dumped into the river decades ago, it is about to walk away from an unfinished job.”

SLOWING STORMS IN THE NORTHEAST? — The Associated Press: “Scientists at Colorado State University, including the professor who pioneered hurricane seasonal prognostication, say they are seeing a localized cooling and salinity level drop in the North Atlantic near Greenland. Those conditions, they theorize, change local weather and ocean patterns and form an on-again, off-again cycle in hurricane activity that they trace back to the late 1800s. Warmer saltier produces periods of more and stronger storms followed by cooler less salty water triggering a similar period of fewer and weaker hurricanes, the scientists say. The periods last about 25 years, sometimes more, sometimes less. The busy cycle that just ended was one of the shorter ones, perhaps because it was so strong that it ran out of energy, said study lead author Phil Klotzbach. Klotzbach said since about 2012 there's been more localized cooling in the key area and less salt, suggesting a new, quieter period. But Klotzbach said it is too soon to be certain that one has begun. 'We're just asking the question,' he said.”


--Cuomo won’t take sides on the Iran nuclear deal.

--Howard Zemsky wrote to the Buffalo News about the state’s efforts to guarantee fresh water in Western New York.

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LOWEST LABOR DAY GAS PRICES IN 11 YEARS—The Energy Collective: “The U.S. average retail price for regular gasoline was $2.51/gallon (g) on August 31, the lowest price for the Monday before Labor Day since 2004, and 95¢/g lower than the same time last year. Declines in crude oil prices are the main driver behind falling U.S. gasoline prices. Lower crude oil prices reflect concerns about economic growth in emerging markets, expectations of higher oil exports from Iran, and continuing actual and expected growth in global crude oil inventories.”

THE BIPARTISAN PROMISE OF A CARBON TAX—Opinion for the New York Times’ Upshot: “Environmentalists in the United States would do well to look north at the successes achieved in a Canadian province. In 2008, British Columbia introduced a revenue-neutral carbon tax similar to that being proposed for Washington. The results of the policy have been what advocates promised. The use of fossil fuels in British Columbia has fallen compared with the rest of Canada. But economic growth has not suffered. What is most noteworthy, however, is that the policy was championed by a right-of-center government that did not previously have close ties to the environmental movement.”

IT’S THE PLUTONIUM, STUPID: The New York Times reports that nuclear experts are baffled at criticism of the Iran nuclear deal and its focus on uranium production. Plutonium, experts say, is far more dangerous.

“Nearly two years of negotiations went into the landmark deal, which would limit Iran’s production of uranium and plutonium in exchange for the end of international oil and financial sanctions. It was finalized in July and is set for a congressional vote this month. Last week, President Obama secured commitments for enough votes to put the agreement in place over fierce Republican opposition. But in the dauntingly complex analyses that preceded that political alignment, questions and criticism revolved almost exclusively around uranium — how much of it Iran would be allowed to enrich and stockpile, and how compliance would be verified. Atomic experts call the uranium focus potentially misleading, because it is the lesser path to the bomb.”

--Congress will begin the fight over the deal this week, the Wall Street Journal reports and it’s going to be a doozie.

CHEVRON LAWSUIT FIGHT SHIFTS TO CANADA—The New York Times’ Ian Austen and Clifford Krauss: “The Supreme Court of Canada ruled on Friday that a group of Ecuadoreans can use an Ontario court in an attempt to collect billions of dollars from Chevron for environmental damage. The ruling is the latest step in a 13-year legal battle over the contamination of a rain forest in Ecuador, where Texaco had oil operations. The lawsuit has pitted Ecuadorean villagers in the region of Lago Agrio against Chevron, which bought Texaco. While a trial court in Ecuador initially awarded the villagers $17.2 billion, an appeals court reduced the damages to $9.5 billion. It was one of the largest judgments imposed by a court for environmental contamination.”

CARBON GOALS SPLIT CALIFORNIA DEMOCRATS—The New York Times’ Adam Nagourney: “With President Obama back from a trip to Alaska in which he portrayed the fight against climate change as an urgent international priority, California is showing how hard it can be — even in a state overwhelmingly controlled by Democrats — to get an ambitious carbon reduction bill passed. The state has been at the forefront of global efforts to battle greenhouse gases, enacting mandates to force sharp reductions in emissions over the next 35 years. Its environmental record was applauded by Mr. Obama last week, and Pope Francis invited Gov. Jerry Brown to discuss the fight against global warming in the Vatican this summer.”

CAN CALIFORNIA CUT GASOLINE USE 50 PERCENT?—San Jose Mercury News’ Paul Rogers: “For 50 years, California has led the nation in passing environmental standards to protect its beaches, restore wildlife and reduce smog. But as the final days of this year's legislative session in Sacramento loom, a controversial bill that would require the state to reduce petroleum use by motor vehicles at least 50 percent by 2030 is causing people in the Capitol and around the state to ask: "Is that even possible?" Yet lost in the debate are two key facts: The state will get halfway to that goal even if it does nothing. That's because of federal rules put into place in 2009 by President Barack Obama to double the gas mileage standards for new U.S. vehicles to 54.5 miles per gallon by 2025.”

PRESIDENT TRUMP, ENERGY SECRETARY PALIN: The Washington Post reports that if Donald Trump were to become president, Sarah Palin would be interested in heading up the Department of Energy just long enough to get rid of the Department of Energy.

"I think a lot about the Department of Energy, because energy is my baby,” Palin said. “And if I were head of that, I would get rid of it. And I would let the states start having more control over the lands that are within their boundaries and the people who are affected by the developments within their space."

EARTH GETTING DRIER—The Energy Collective: "A landmark study in the journal Nature documents an expansion of the world’s dry and semi-arid climate regions since 1950 — and attributes it to human-caused global warming. This expansion of the world’s dry zones is a basic prediction of climate science. The fact it is so broadly observable now means we must take seriously the current projections of widespread global Dust-Bowlification in the coming decades on our current CO2 emissions pathway — including the U.S.’s own breadbasket. The new study, 'Significant anthropogenic-induced changes of climate classes since 1950,' looks at multiple datasets of monthly temperature and precipitation over time. The main finding: 'About 5.7% of the global total land area has shifted toward warmer and drier climate types from 1950–2010, and significant changes include expansion of arid and high-latitude continental climate zones, shrinkage in polar and midlatitude continental climates.'"

‘LOVE SONG’: Some big names in the music business have recorded a “Love Song to the Earth” for the U.N. climate conference in December. From the release: “Paul McCartney, Jon Bon Jovi, Leona Lewis, Sheryl Crow, Fergie and UN Goodwill Ambassador Angelique Kidjo are among the musicians who released the single ‘Love Song to the Earth,’ now available for download from iTunes and Apple Music. More artists featured on the song include: Colbie Caillat, Johnny Rzeznik, Krewella, Kelsea Ballerini, Nicole Scherzinger, Christina Grimmie, Victoria Justice and Q’Orianka Kilch, as well as co-writers Natasha Bedingfield and Sean Paul. Othera co-writers are Toby Gad and John Shanks.”

THE TROUBLE WITH STRIPPERS—The Wall Street Journal’s Nicole Friedman: “Steve Plants, vice president of Plants & Goodwin Inc. in Shinglehouse, Pa., still pumps crude oil from wells drilled in the 1890s. But with the price of crude below $50 a barrel, some of those low-producing wells, known as stripper wells, don’t turn a profit. Mr. Plants has permanently closed 10 wells, he says, and plans to plug another 10 by the end of the year. 'We’re losing money every day,' said Mr. Plants, who operates about 200 wells in Pennsylvania and New York. 'If we were pumping wells every day, we might be pumping them once a week now,' to save on costs. Mr. Plants, and thousands of individual operators like him, could turn out to be a key element in ending the oil-price rout, rather than a large producing country like Saudi Arabia or a big public company. A sharp drop in stripper-well output, currently estimated at a million barrels a day, or 11% of total U.S. production, would be nearly impossible to observe as it happens, but it could still shrink the glut that continues to weigh on prices, surprising the market, analysts say.”


--Oil was lower Monday: The Journal reports that oil was sluggish in trading Monday.

“On London’s ICE Futures, trading in the global crude benchmark Brent at 0840 GMT was down 0.55% at $49.06 a barrel for cargoes loading in October. Trade in WTI was also extremely slow with prices down 0.5% at $45.56 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange.”

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