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POLITICO New York Energy: Albany boiler project in limbo, LIPA and PSEG in rate spat

By David Giambusso and Scott Waldman

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ALBANY CRUDE BOILER PROJECT IN LIMBO — POLITICO New York’s Scott Waldman: The state’s evaluation of a crude oil heating project that could transform the type of crude oil brought into New York by rail has entered a state of limbo of sorts. In May, the Department of Environmental Conservation rolled back an earlier decision to allow an application to proceed for an air permit by Massachusetts-based Global Partners for a proposed crude oil heating facility at the Port of Albany. That was widely seen as a reversal of a 2013 decision in which DEC officials issued a negative declaration of an air permit for the facility, meaning it did not require a more extensive environmental review. The project to install boilers near the Port of Albany that would allow for the offloading of heavy crude oil attracted national attention because it could establish a foothold for an expansion of shipping tar sands crude from Western Canada to the East Coast. Community and environmental groups have hosted dozens of protests against the project, which they say could have opened up the Hudson River to a new level of risk.

LIPA AND PSEG AT ODDS OVER RATE-HIKE BID — Newsday’s Mark Harrington: “The Long Island Power Authority is challenging PSEG Long Island's claims that state recommendations to reduce PSEG's requested rate hike violate the New Jersey-based utility's contract and the LIPA Reform Act. In recent filings with the state, PSEG noted that if the New York State Department of Public Service rejects PSEG LI's rate proposals, ‘and if the LIPA board accedes to that result, the resulting budgets will not provide the necessary support PSEG LI believes is required to attain the goals’ of its contract with LIPA. PSEG is seeking a three-year rate hike that would bring in $387.1 million in new revenue from ratepayers starting in 2016. An advisory committee of the state Department of Public Service on Sept. 3 recommended that the increase be limited to $324.6 million. Most of the reduction involves funds PSEG would use to more aggressively trim trees to prevent storm-related outages and inspect aging utility poles.”

GIBSON’S CLIMATE CHANGE RESOLUTION INTRODUCED — POLITICO New York’s Scott Waldman: Republican U.S. Rep. Chris Gibson’s climate resolution introduced Thursday acknowledges that humans have had a role in climate change and that action must be taken now to mitigate its effects. The resolution states that members of the House will work to “create and support economically viable, and broadly supported private and public solutions to study and address the causes and effects of measured changes to our global and regional climates, including mitigation efforts and efforts to balance human activities that have been found to have an impact.”

UBER DOMINATES CONGESTION HEARING — POLITICO New York’s David Giambusso: A hearing Thursday on traffic congestion in Manhattan became a de-facto arena for Uber's latest tiff with City Hall, after the car-hail giant accused the city of moving too fast in its examination of cramped city streets. Mostly polite testimony from city and Uber officials belied the simmering resentment between the two camps as City Hall seeks to cope with Uber's explosive growth, an entrenched taxi bureaucracy and even more entrenched problems with traffic and transportation. "This whole place is just focused on Uber just so you know, but I'm more interested in congestion generally," said Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer, who convened the hearing at Borough of Manhattan Community College.

SANITATION SCORES SMALL RECYCLING GAIN — POLITICO New York’s David Giambusso: The city sanitation department notched some small but significant progress in recycling, according to the mayor's management report released Thursday. The city's diversion rate — the amount of refuse that is diverted from landfills and into various recycling streams — is at 16 percent of the waste stream, or 575,400 tons, according to city data for fiscal year 2015, which ended June 30. That's up from 15.4 percent during fiscal year 2014. “Recycling continues to increase in the city, as more and more residents take advantage of the growing number of programs we have made available,” commissioner Kathryn Garcia said in a statement.


--Council curbs curb conditioning: A bill that would crack down on stores that keep their doors and windows propped open during the summer, allowing air conditioning to flow onto the street, passed the City Council, 44-1,on Thursday.

--A landmark solar project is powering Bloomberg’s Manhattan headquarters.

--Jim Heaney of Investigative Post talked SolarCity with Capital Pressroom

--The New York Power Authority is helping to build a Buffalo museum.

--The city Department of Education registered a $13 million contract for electrical energy efficiency projects. See this and more in Brendan Cheney's New York City contracts tracker.

HAPPY FRIDAY: 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:

EXXON KNEW, PART TWO: InsideClimate News drops Part Two in its series uncovering ExxonMobil’s extensive research and knowledge of the effect of fossil fuels on global warming, and the fossil fuel giant’s subsequent efforts to discredit the science now widely accepted. Part Two examines the team of scientists who Exxon hired to research the effects of carbon dioxide on global warming.

“Henry Shaw, who died in 2003, was one of the Exxon scientists engaged in an ambitious quest to comprehend the potentially devastating effects that carbon dioxide emissions could have on the climate. From the late 1970s to the mid-80s, Exxon scientists worked at the cutting edge of climate change research, documents examined by InsideClimate News show. This history of that research emerged from an eight-month investigation by InsideClimate News.

Exxon documents show that top corporate managers were aware of their scientists' early conclusions about carbon dioxide's impact on the climate. They reveal that scientists warned management that policy changes to address climate change might affect profitability. After a decade of frank internal discussions on global warming and conducting unbiased studies on it, Exxon changed direction in 1989 and spent more than 20 years discrediting the research its own scientists had once confirmed.”

ENERGY BILL STALLS — POLITICO’s Darren Goode: “An ambitious bipartisan energy package stalled in the House on Thursday, caught between Democrats’ desire for stronger climate change language and conservative Republicans' effort to derail the Obama administration's environmental agenda. It remains to be seen whether the energy bills crafted in the House and Senate this year can make it to the floor of either chamber, and sponsors aren't making any promises. In the House, negotiations are stuck where they have been for months, and one of the energy bill's key architects is nearly ready to abandon the push for a bipartisan deal. ‘Well, we've been doing that for three, four weeks now and it's pretty obvious that these areas that we consider so important so far they're not moving on,’ Energy and Power Subcommittee Chairman Ed Whitfield (R-Ky.) said. ‘We're going to pass a bill. It's either with them or without them.’" [PRO]

NRG PLANS FOSSIL FUEL PLANT SALES — Bloomberg: “NRG Energy Inc., the worst-performing member of the S&P 500 Utilities Index this year, is considering selling fossil-fuel plants and intends to buy back shares, people with knowledge of the plan said. The biggest U.S. independent power generator will also tell investors in a scheduled presentation on Friday that it’s willing to separate parts of its renewable energy portfolio from its conventional business, said the people, who asked not to be identified because the information isn’t public. They didn’t disclose details on exactly how the operations would be separated. NRG has been facing increasing pressure from investors to show how the company plans to invest in its renewable energy business while hanging onto conventional resources such as coal-fired and natural gas-fired power plants. The company’s stock has dropped almost 30 percent in the last four months amid a slump in energy prices. Karen Cleeve, a spokeswoman for Princeton, New Jersey-based NRG Energy, declined by phone to comment.”\

OTTER ASTHMA — Daily News: “A young sea otter at the Seattle Aquarium is learning to breathe at ease again with the help of an inhaler. The thick smoke that permeated Washington state during a rough string of wildfires led veterinarians to diagnose a sea otter named ‘Mishka’ with asthma, according to a KING-TV report. The otter’s trainers are using treats to show the 1-year-old how to poke her snout into an inhaler just like humans with asthma do.”

DIVESTING MADE EASY: InsideClimate News reports on a new web-based program,, that allows investors to see how much their mutual funds are tied up in fossil fuels.

LETTERMAN ON CLIMATE CHANGE — The Associated Press: “David Letterman will return to TV next year to help draw attention to the effects of climate change when he appears on an episode of ‘Years of Living Dangerously.’ The National Geographic Channel series, which Thursday was renewed for a second season, has signed Letterman for his first announced appearance since leaving his job hosting CBS’ ‘Late Show.’ Fellow correspondents will include Ty Burrell, James Cameron, Don Cheadle, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Olivia Munn, Ian Somerhalder and Cecily Strong, among others.”

OIL AND GAS CO’S IN DEFAULT SPIRAL — The Wall Street Journal: “The well is running dry for deeply indebted energy companies. Samson Resources Corp. became the latest, and largest, victim of an industry downturn, as it filed for chapter 11 protection late Wednesday. Industry experts say more oil-and-gas companies are poised to follow the Tulsa, Okla., company into bankruptcy as oil prices remain low following a steep drop that began last year. The default rate among U.S. energy companies has accelerated in recent months to 4.8%, the highest level since 1999 and up from 3.3% in August, according to Fitch Ratings. Within that group, exploration and production companies like Samson are defaulting at an even higher rate, 8.5%, Fitch said. Default volume for such companies is the highest it has been in five years, at $10.4 billion in debt.”

ASH DISEASE SPREADING — The New York Times Magazine: Ash dieback disease, a new and virulent fungal infection that has spread westward across Europe [will] likely kill nearly all the ash trees in Britain. In America, the effects of the invasive emerald ash borer beetle have been just as devastating. Globalization is the culprit. While there have always been outbreaks of tree disease, about as many have appeared since the 1970s as in all recorded history. The accelerating scale and speed of international trade has brought numerous pathogens and pests to species with no natural resistance to them: If you are a tree, death comes hidden in wood veneer, in packing material, in shipping containers, nursery plants, cut flowers and imported saplings.”


--Oil drops on Fed news: Oil prices dropped on the Fed’s decision not to change interest rates, the Wall Street Journal reports.

“Light, sweet crude for October delivery settled down 25 cents, or 0.5%, at $46.90 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Brent, the global benchmark, fell 67 cents, or 1.3%, to $49.08 a barrel on ICE Futures Europe.”

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