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POLITICO New York Energy: Clean energy line proposal; an open-door rule

By David Giambusso and Scott Waldman

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NEW CLEAN ENERGY TRANSMISSION LINE PROPOSED — POLITICO New York’s Scott Waldman: A proposed new 60-mile transmission line would carry power from wind farms in upstate New York, along with Canadian hydropower, to Vermont. The Vermont Green Line would run from Beekmantown, north of Plattsburgh, under Lake Champlain to New Haven, Vermont. It would carry 400 megawatts of power, sourced from wind and hydropower sources. Much of it would run the length of Lake Champlain. The project's developers say it will be able to power 240,000 homes and is necessitated by growing demand in New England for clean energy. New York and New England have some of the nation’s highest electric costs.

SHUT THE FRONT DOOR — POLITICO New York’s David Giambusso: Air conditioning is the main contributor to stress on the power grid during the summer months — particularly on days like Tuesday — and a primary target of utilities and state regulators for efficiency and conservation. But despite warnings, high costs and increased greenhouse gas emissions, thousands of stores and businesses keep their doors open in the summertime in the apparent hope the burst of cool air will lure customers inside. "I have not seen one study to that effect," said Costa Constantinides, chairman of the City Council's environmental protection committee. "It's an urban myth. I compare it to the alligators in the sewers." Constantinides and Councilman Donovan Richards, the committee's former chairman, are sponsoring a bill that would prohibit almost all stores from keeping their doors and windows open in the summer while their cooling systems are running.

JUDGE TOSSES COAL PLANT LAWSUIT — POLITICO New York’s Scott Waldman: A judge has tossed a lawsuit filed by environmental groups over the Cuomo administration's plan to refire an aging coal plant in Western New York. Environmental groups and local residents had sued in December over the repowering of the Dunkirk power plant, after Gov. Andrew Cuomo helped broker a deal in 2013 to add natural gas capacity to the plant to prevent it from shuttering. (That plan could become moot, however, now that its operator has said it plans to mothball it.) In their suit, the environmental groups argued that the state had not required the proper environmental review of the facility, and contended that its air quality permits should be based on the plant’s ability to burn coal, not on natural gas, which is cleaner. They also challenged the repowering agreement, calling it “arbitrary and capricious.” Last week, Supreme Court Judge Raymond Elliott dismissed the suit without addressing its claim that the state didn't have the right to repower the plant. He found that the groups had not had standing to sue, because they could not prove “they would suffer direct injury different from that suffered by the public at large.”

GE AND CUOMO’S IRRESISTIBLE OPPORTUNITY — Crain’s Craig David: “General Electric led the first major wave of corporate defections from New York, abandoning the city in 1975 for Fairfield County in Connecticut. Now, tired by what he sees as endless efforts to raise taxes on his company, CEO Jeffrey Immelt is threatening to move his headquarters to a more understanding place. Gov. Andrew Cuomo thinks that place is New York — more specifically the northern suburbs. This is a tale of taxes, incentives and the intersection of the economy and politics.”


--The city proposed new recycling rules for the commercial carting sector amid increased scrutiny.

--Fred Lebrun of the Albany Times Union asks where the oil train watchers are in Albany.

--Bobcats have returned to Central New York.

--New York stands to do well under the Clean Power Plan.

--Colleges, including New York University, that divest from fossil fuels could lose tens of millions of dollars, including to an industry-supported study.

--Two bills could change the game for geothermal energy in New York, the Community

Power Network reports.

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MORE DRILLS, MORE SPILLS — John Flesher of the Associated Press: “Carl Johnson and son Justin are third- and fourth-generation ranchers who for decades have battled oilfield companies that left a patchwork of barren earth where the men graze cattle in the high plains of New Mexico. Blunt and profane, they stroll across a 1 1/2-acre patch of sandy soil — lifeless, save for a scattering of stunted weeds. Five years ago, a broken pipe soaked the land with as much as 420,000 gallons of oilfield wastewater — a salty and potentially toxic drilling byproduct that can quickly turn fertile land into a dead zone. The leaked brine killed every sprig of grama and bluestem grasses and shinnery shrubs it touched. For the Johnsons, the spill is among dozens that have taken a heavy toll: a landscape pockmarked with spots where livestock can no longer graze, legal fees running into the tens of thousands and worries about the safety of the area's underground aquifer.”

THE DEAL IS DONE — The New York Times: “Four Democratic senators announced on Tuesday that they would back President Obama’s nuclear deal with Iran, apparently securing enough votes so that Mr. Obama will not be forced to veto a Republican resolution disapproving of the accord. The White House, which had worked aggressively with Congressional Democrats to build support for the agreement, had been hoping to avoid the diplomatic embarrassment of Mr. Obama being forced to use his veto to defeat a disapproval resolution. And as critics in Congress prepared to begin a historic debate on the Iran agreement, the support of the four senators — Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut, Maria Cantwell of Washington, Gary s of Michigan and Ron Wyden of Oregon — meant that the Republicans would not have the 60 votes needed to overcome a filibuster of the resolution. Forty-two Democrats now back the agreement.”

MASS. SOLAR FOR THE MASSES — The Boston Globe: “Five solar projects sprouting along the Massachusetts Turnpike and Route 3 are not the largest in the state, but they are among the most visible and striking examples of a solar industry that has grown more rapidly than most policy makers and energy specialists ever imagined. As tens of thousands of commuters whiz by, the gleaming rows of solar panels in locations like the Interstate 90 service plaza in Framingham, an embankment on the turnpike near Natick, or a rest area on Route 3 in Plymouth show how solar power has been integrated into daily life. The Framingham and Natick projects are already generating power; when the other sites in Framingham and Plymouth become operational later this month, the five solar farms will produce a combined 2,500 kilowatts of electricity, enough to power about 500 homes.”

VIDEO OF THE DAY: Here’s a promotional video touting SolarCity’s partnership with the National Renewable Energy Laboratory.

IRAN NUKE AND CRUDE EXPORTS ON LAWMAKER AGENDA — EnergyWire’s Geof Koss: ”Lawmakers return from the August recess this week to dive headfirst into a crowded fall agenda that includes the hotly contested Iran nonproliferation agreement, preventing another government shutdown, keeping federal highway dollars flowing, as well as possible votes on crude exports and a number of other contentious energy and environmental issues. The early focus in both chambers will be the resolution (H.J. Res. 64) to disapprove the Iran deal, a key foreign policy milestone for President Obama but one that Republicans have denounced en masse.”

LOBBYING DRIVES CRUDE BAN — Houston Chronicle’s Jennifer Dlouhy: “Momentum is building on Capitol Hill to lift a 40-year-old ban on exporting U.S. crude, driven by a sophisticated oil industry lobbying campaign that has enlisted executives, targeted political donors and tapped social media. It's a remarkable reversal for a crusade met with deep skepticism when it was launched less than two years ago. A House subcommittee is expected to approve legislation lifting the export ban this week, setting the stage for full floor action this fall. Although there isn't a clear path in the Senate, Democratic leader Harry Reid has invited a ‘compromise’ on oil exports — an acknowledgment the issue is ripe for a deal. ‘We've come so far, so fast,’ said George Baker, executive director of Producers for American Crude Oil Exports, a coalition of independent oil companies lobbying to lift the ban. ‘This is a whole different issue from where it was back in January.’”

BEHIND CRUDE BUST IN TEXAS — San Antonio Express-News’ Jennifer Hiller: Crude oil’s multi-year boom has turned to bust, catching Meurer and thousands of other workers in a cycle that has played out for generations in Texas. The state could lose 140,000 jobs tied to the oil field this year, a forecast the Dallas branch of the Federal Reserve expects may worsen. Oil has tumbled from $100 per barrel last year to below $50 last week. Economists talk about the supply-demand lesson playing out — how the world market has signaled to the industry it must stop pumping so much oil. Operators speak of technology gains and “transitioning the company to be successful in a lower oil price environment.” But in the same way barbed-wire fences and thorn brush hide the workaday tasks of the oil patch, economic models and dry corporate reports don’t reveal what’s happening in hardscrabble communities — the pawned TVs, fractured relationships and RVs rolling out of South Texas to someplace more hopeful.”

IT’S STILL HOT — Bloomberg: “Spot power prices were surging from New York City to Los Angeles on Tuesday as customers blasted air conditioners to keep cool in what’s projected to be the hottest September since 2005. High temperatures and humidity ‘will be the rule for the next couple of days’ across the Northeast and mid-Atlantic, WSI Corp., a weather services company in Andover, Massachusetts, said in a note to clients. Tuesday’s high in New York’s Central Park reached 97, while in Boston readings peaked at 96, setting daily records for both cities, the National Weather Service said. As of 3 p.m., Washington was 92. An excessive heat warning was issued for the Los Angeles area as part of the region braced for triple-digit temperatures.”

WHY IS IT STILL HOT? Now that Labor Day has passed, we should be able to break out the fall sweaters. Not so, say meteorologists. Climate Central reports, “The heat wave that has a hold on much of the country is due to an area of high pressure parked off the East Coast, Bob Oravec, lead forecaster with the National Weather Service in College Park, Md., said. High pressure tends to lead to stable air and clear skies, which can help send temperatures soaring.”


--Oil benchmarks diverge: The Wall Street Journal reports that U.S. oil fell while European picked up based on competing economic data.

“U.S. oil prices wavered between gains and losses Tuesday before settling down 11 cents, or 0.2%, at $45.94 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The U.S. market was closed Monday for the Labor Day holiday ... Meanwhile, robust German exports data provided some support for Brent, the global oil benchmark. Exports from Europe’s biggest economy rose 2.4% over the month in July, while imports also grew. Brent crude is priced based on a blend of North Sea crudes, making it especially sensitive to European economic data.”

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