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POLITICO New York Energy, presented by Professional Women in Advocacy Conference: Buffalo development contracts investigated; Times edit board on oil trains

By David Giambusso and Scott Waldman

Good morning! Only POLITICO New York Pro subscribers receive this email at 5:30 a.m. each weekday. If you'd like to receive it at that time, along with a customized real-time news feed of New York energy policy news throughout the day, please contact us at and we'll set you up for trial access. We’ll send the same newsletter to non-Pro subscribers at 10 a.m. Thank you for reading.

BHARARA INVESTIGATING BUFFALO DEVELOPMENT CONTRACTS — The Buffalo News’ Phil Fairbanks: “Federal prosecutor Preet Bharara’s investigation into the Buffalo Billion is part of a larger probe into other development projects, including the Buffalo Schools Construction Project, sources close to the investigation said Friday. The first hint of an investigation by the Manhattan U.S. Attorney came in the form of subpoenas demanding information on several large-scale state initiatives, many of them with close ties to Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo and the SUNY Polytechnic Institute in Albany. Sources said the subpoenas went out across the state and seek documents and records regarding the bidding process on those projects, as well as any communication between state officials and private contractors.”

--The subpoenas come “on the heels of a broader investigation by Mr. Bharara’s office into public corruption in Albany, which led to the arrests of the leaders of the New York State Assembly and Senate, Sheldon Silver and Dean G. Skelos, both of whom subsequently resigned from their leadership posts but continued to serve in the Legislature,” write Susanne Craig and William Rashbaum in the New York Times.

--News of the probe comes months after Investigative Post reported on development proposals for SolarCity that were written to single out one developer.

--Cuomo: ‘No role’ — POLITICO New York’s Azi Paybarah: Cuomo said he played no role in a campaign contributor winning a mutli-million-dollar construction bid in Buffalo that is now reportedly the subject of Bharara’s investigation.

NY TIMES OPINION: NO OIL TRAIN STORAGE IN ADIRONDACKS: “After deadly and destructive explosions of oil tank cars in recent years, the federal government began requiring new, somewhat safer tankers to carry the explosive Bakken crude oil across the country. Let’s hope that this is progress. The problem now for those who transport this highly-combustible oil is what to do with the big outdated tankers. One company has what is perhaps the worst suggestion yet: They want to dump about 500 of these particularly ugly containers in the Adirondack Park. The Adirondack Council, which works to protect the 6.1 million acres in the nation’s largest state park, has appealed to Governor Andrew Cuomo of New York to ban the dumping.”

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--U.S. Sen. Charles Schumer wants the federal government to help subsidize the municipalities affected by the closure of the Huntley Station power plant in Western New York.

--Schenectady mayoral candidates to talk environment: The Albany Times Union reports The two candidates for mayor will discuss environmental issues facing Schenectady at 6 p.m. Monday at Proctors. Mayor Gary McCarthy and challenger Roger Hull will take part in the forum from 6 to 8 p.m. at the Robb Alley Room.”

GOOD MONDAY MORNING: 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:

FALLING OIL PRICES CONTRIBUTE TO JOB LOSSES — The Associated Press: “Unemployment fell in 29 states in August and held steady in 11 as hiring remained solid nationwide, but falling oil and coal prices continued to take a toll on energy-producing states. The Labor Department said Friday that employers added jobs in 32 states and shed them in 18. Oil prices that are sharply lower than a year ago contributed to job losses and higher unemployment in several states, including Alaska, North Dakota and Texas.”

HOW VW CHEATED EMISSIONS TESTS — Bloomberg’s Dana Hull and Jeff Plungis: “It didn’t add up. The Volkswagens were spewing harmful exhaust when testers drove them on the road. In the lab, they were fine. Discrepancies in the European tests on the diesel models of the VW Passat, the VW Jetta and the BMW X5 last year gave Mock an idea. Mock, European managing director of a little-known clean-air group, suggested replicating the tests in the U.S. The U.S. has higher emissions standards than the rest of the world and a history of enforcing them, so Mock and his American counterpart, John German, were sure the U.S. versions of the vehicles would pass the emissions tests, German said. That way, they reasoned, they could show Europeans it was possible for diesel cars to run clean. ‘We had no cause for suspicion,’ German, U.S. co-lead of the International Council on Clean Transportation, said in an interview. ‘We thought the vehicles would be clean.’ So began a series of events that resulted in Volkswagen AG admitting that it built ‘defeat device’ software into a half-million of its diesel cars from 2009 to 2015 that automatically cheated on U.S. air-pollution tests. The world’s second-biggest carmaker now faces billions in fines, possible jail time for its executives and the undoing of its U.S. expansion plans.”

--Sorry about that: The Associated Press reports, “the CEO of Volkswagen apologized Sunday after the Environmental Protection Agency said the German automaker skirted clean air rules by rigging emissions tests for about 500,000 diesel cars. 'I personally am deeply sorry that we have broken the trust of our customers and the public,' Volkswagen chief Martin Winterkorn said in a statement. He said VW has ordered an investigation and promised that the company would cooperate with regulators.”

OIL TRAIN SETTLEMENT PAYMENTS HELD UP — The Associated Press: “A $338 million settlement fund for victims of a fiery train derailment that claimed 47 lives in Canada is poised for final approval, but payments could be held up by a legal challenge from one of that country’s largest railways. Canadian Pacific, which opposes the settlement fund, declined to contribute because it contends others were responsible for the tragedy. If the settlement is approved, Canadian Pacific would be left open to lawsuits while those the railroad considers to be responsible would be shielded from further legal battles by the agreement.”

POPE-REPUBLICAN TENSION ON CLIMATE: When Pope Francis addresses Congress on Thursday many in the GOP who have extolled Catholicism for its typically conservative line on abortion and homosexuality may be unnerved by Francis and his climate message as well as his more liberal emphasis on Catholic doctrine. The Wall Street Journal reports, “Pope Francis’ blunt warnings of the dangers posed by climate change, his critiques of consumerism and the market economy, and his more welcoming tone toward gay Catholics have left Republicans wary of what the pope might say in his Sept. 24 address to Congress.”

--Rep. Paul Gosar is boycotting the Pope’s address, The Hill reports. The Arizona Catholic and devout Republican is skipping the pope’s address to Congress based on the pope’s climate advocacy, putting Gosar at odds with both religion and science in one move.

WORKPLACE DEATHS INCREASE IN ENERGY INDUSTRY — The Wall Street Journal’s Alexandra Berzon: “The number of workers whose deaths were tied to their jobs in the U.S. likely rose last year to the highest number since 2008, according to figures released on Thursday by the Labor Department. The number of oil-and-gas industry workers who died in job-related accidents rose dramatically, continuing a pattern that has troubled worker-safety experts. The report by the department’s Bureau of Labor Statistics found in a preliminary study that 142 people last year died working in the oil fields, up from 112 in 2013, a rise of 27%. That preliminary figure is the same as the number of oil-field workers who died in 2012, which was the highest in at least two decades. The agency adds more fatalities when it revises its numbers each spring—generally finding between 100 and 200 additional deaths overall. If that trend holds true, the number of oil-and-gas worker deaths would mean last year was the deadliest year going back at least as far as 1993 for that industry.”

FARMING ALSO CAUSES AIR POLLUTION DEATHS — The Associated Press’ Seth Borenstein: “Air pollution is killing 3.3 million people a year worldwide, according to a new study that includes this surprise: Farming plays a large role in smog and soot deaths in industrial nations. Scientists in Germany, Cyprus, Saudi Arabia and Harvard University calculated the most detailed estimates yet of the toll of air pollution, looking at what caused it. The study also projects that if trends don't change, the yearly death total will double to about 6.6 million a year by 2050. The study, published Wednesday in the journal Nature, used health statistics and computer models. About three quarters of the deaths are from strokes and heart attacks, said lead author Jos Lelieveld at the Max Planck Institute for Chemistry in Germany.”

IAEA GAINS ACCESS TO PARCHIN — Bloomberg: “International Atomic Energy Agency inspectors gained access to Iran’s Parchin military complex, breaking a four-year deadlock and moving the sides one step closer toward resolving suspicions over past nuclear work. The IAEA’s top nuclear inspector, Tero Varjoranta, was accompanied by Director General Yukiya Amano on his visit to Parchin, the agency said on its website. The visit was part of the so-called “road map” agreed between the IAEA and Iran intended to clarify whether the Persian Gulf country pursued nuclear-weapons related research.”

THE GRAND PLAN: Amid a period of historic drought and unquenchable fire in California, Buzzfeed reporter Michelle Nijhuis details the history of a 50-year-old plan that would have siphoned water from Canada to the southern west coast of North America. The plan came from similar period of drought and fire and may not be entirely abandoned.

CARBON PRICING DEBATE — Vox’s David Roberts: “There's a long-running dispute in climate circles between those who support economy-wide carbon pricing as the best and perhaps only legitimate climate policy and those who (also) support targeted ‘green industrial policy’ that boosts specific industries or technologies (think renewable energy standards, feed-in tariffs, or technology subsidies). The argument for economy-wide climate pricing — articulated frequently by economists, economist wannabes, and the Washington Post editorial page — is simple: Rather than ‘choosing winners and losers’ by favoring this or that technology, putting an equal price on every ton of carbon emissions allows the invisible hand of the market to work its magic, making the cheapest emission reductions first and working up from there. It is perfectly economically efficient. In theory.”


--Oil dropped sharply, on the Fed’s decision to not move on interest rates, the Wall Street Journal reports.

“Light, sweet crude for October delivery slid $2.22, or 4.7%, to $44.68 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract was up 0.1% on the week. Brent crude, the global benchmark, fell $1.61, or 3.3%, to $47.47 a barrel on ICE Futures Europe, posting a 3.2% weekly loss.”

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