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POLITICO New York Energy, presented by Professional Women in Advocacy Conference: Transmission line dispute; Cayuga coal ash leak

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.

STATE AGENCIES AT ODDS OVER TRANSMISSION LINE — POLITICO New York’s Scott Waldman: Two state agencies are at odds over a proposed transmission line in the lower Hudson Valley that could be an important piece of the plan to replace the Indian Point nuclear facility. The state Department of Environmental Conservation and the Department of Public Service have filed conflicting statements about the environmental footprint of the 15-mile transmission line that's needed to add the proposed Cricket Valley power plant in Dutchess County to the state’s electric grid, according to public documents. The agencies disagree over which areas of the footprint would be protected under state law because construction would encroach on land that includes or is near environmentally sensitive wetlands.

CAYUGA COAL ASH LEAKING FROM LANDFILL — Ithaca Journal’s Nick Reynolds: “Coal ash sitting dormant in an unlined portion of the landfill near the Cayuga Power Plant has been seeping into groundwater for nearly 30 years and has flowed into nearby Milliken Creek, potentially contaminating drinking water, a geologist said in a meeting with Tompkins County officials Wednesday afternoon. Mark Quarles, owner and a senior consultant with Nashville, Tennessee-based geology firm Global Environmental, was brought in last fall to assist in the review of a proposed permit renewal for discharge at the Cayuga Power Plant facility and landfill by the chairman of the Tompkins County Environmental Review Committee, John Dennis. Quarles’ role was to review the status of the landfill itself in meeting and not meeting the rules and regulations for solid waste disposal.”

JERSEY STRUGGLES WITH FRACKING WASTE — POLITICO New Jersey’s David Giambusso: Environmentalists and representatives from the fossil fuel industry found themselves in rare agreement Monday, both opposing state Sen. Diane Allen's bill to monitor, test and treat wastewater from hydraulic fracturing, but for very different reasons. The legislation, S2534, would require laboratory analysis of fracking wastewater and would compel the state Department of Environmental Protection to provide permits and disclosures for any attempts to treat, store or dispose of the material. At a hearing of the Senate Committee on Energy and Environment on Monday, environmentalists opposed the bill, saying anything short of an all-out ban would be insufficient to protect state water supplies. Pro-industry representatives said the bill imposed too much regulation on an industry that is helping provide cleaner energy to state residents.

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--De Blasio: Pope is unnerving conservatives: POLITICO New York’s Laura Nahmias reports that Pope Francis’ visit to the United States this week is making conservative politicians "uncomfortable," according to Mayor Bill de Blasio. The mayor singled out Catholic commentators and Republican politicians who have questioned the pope’s critiques of capitalism and global warming.

--A group of Republican lawmakers are calling for the continued operation of the FitzPatrick nuclear facility.

--A group of Democratic lawmakers are calling for full disclosure from the state’s energy generators.

--A fire at the US Salt factory in Watkins Glen, which sent smoke billowing across Seneca Lake near the site of a proposed gas storage facility, was caused by an overheated diesel generator used as a backup.

--A Buffalo area housing project is installing a geothermal heating system.

--A pipeline expansion will bring gas fracked in Pennsylvania into Western New York.

--The Plattsburgh Press-Republican calls for a microbead ban.

--A bull moose evaded officials for nine hours before crossing the Hudson and getting tranquilized in Troy.

--Movers, shakers: Dan Hendrick of NRG and Jamil Khan of SolarCity joined the board of directors of the New York Solar Energy Industries Association.

GOOD TUESDAY TO YOU: While there’s still technically one more day of summer left, we here at POLITICO New York are in full fall swing. 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:

OIL AND GAS SUBSIDIES EXCEED RENEWABLE SUBSIDIES — Bloomberg’s Reed Landberg: “As world leaders converge on New York for a United Nations gathering that’s expected to have a strong emphasis on climate change, the [Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development] is pointing out 800 ways rich industrial nations support fossil fuels with taxpayer money, along with a handful of countries that are catching up quickly. The measures were worth $167 billion last year for the oil, natural gas and coal industries, according to the OECD, a Paris-based institution that advises 34 industrial nations. While that number has fallen from almost $200 billion in 2012, it easily exceeds the value of subsidies for renewables such as wind and solar.”

EPA PUT THE SCREWS TO VW — The New York Times: “Volkswagen executives told environmental regulators for more than a year that discrepancies between pollution tests on its diesel cars and the starkly higher levels out on the road were a technical error, not a deliberate attempt to deceive Washington officials. But this month, the executives made a startling admission: The diesel vehicles it sold in the United States used software meant to cheat on the tests. VW made the admission only when the Environmental Protection Agency took the extraordinary action of threatening to withhold approval for the company’s 2016 Volkswagen and Audi diesel models, according to letters sent to company officials by the E.P.A. and California regulators.”

--The U.S. Justice Department is conducting a criminal probe of Volkswagen AG over the auto maker’s alleged cheating on U.S. emissions tests, people familiar with the matter said.

--“This scandal raises a few larger questions, though: Why did Volkswagen cheat in the first place? And why was it so easy for the company to evade regulators for years? To get a better handle on those questions, we need to take a brief trip through the tangled history of clean diesel vehicles — the specific cars that VW was selling,” writes Brad Plumer at Vox.

OIL INVESTMENTS RISKY — The Wall Street Journal’s Matt Wirz and Tom McGinty: “When oil prices collapsed late last year, the $83 billion Franklin Income Fund suffered mightily, losing more than $2 billion on its energy-company investments. Ed Perks responded as portfolio managers at Franklin Templeton often do: He doubled down, purchasing $2 billion more of energy-sector junk bonds. So far, the trade is a bust. Stock and bond prices declined further this summer as oil dropped. In August, fund investors pulled out about $1.47 billion, the biggest departure in the fund’s 67-year history save for October 2008. The bond market has transformed immensely since the financial crisis.”

SELFIES MORE DANGEROUS THAN SHARKS: It appears that more people have died from taking selfies than in shark attacks in 2015, according to a report from Mashable.

OIL RIG EXPLOSION, ON STAGE — Reveal’s Cole Goins: “On Sept. 14, 2011, an explosion on a rig in the Bakken oil fields of North Dakota claimed the lives of two workers and took the legs of a third. It was the deadliest accident in the history of the recent Bakken shale boom. This week, their voices will be heard again in North Dakota on stage. The latest production by StoryWorks, an experimental project from The Center for Investigative Reporting that produces theater inspired by investigative journalism, tells the stories of the men who were there on that devastating day. Drawing from the investigative reporting of Reveal’s Jennifer Gollan, ‘North by Inferno’ recounts the events that led to the explosion and details the intricate ways that oil companies shield themselves from liability when an accident occurs. Written by Jon Bernson and directed by Jennifer Welch, the play explores the human cost of America’s energy demand.”

‘NEW NORMAL’ FOR OIL RESERVES — The Oklahoman’s Adam Wilmoth: “The rapid increase in domestic production over the past several years has displaced much of the country's oil imports and forced changes in many of the ways companies operate throughout the oil patch. Oklahoma City-based Continental Resources Inc. executives say those supply changes also fundamentally affect the way the country's oil storage levels are measured and understood. ‘We're in a new normal for infrastructure and reserves,’ said Kirk Kinnear, Continental's vice president of crude logistics and hedging. ‘The industry knows this paradigm shift is real and that they need to take this kind of infrastructure change into account in the new model. Yet the government hasn't picked it up yet.’”

NOTRE DAME TO STOP BURNING COAL: USA Today reports that in honor of Pope Francis’ arrival in the U.S., the University of Notre Dame has declared it will stop burning coal to produce electricity.

WATER FOR TAR SANDS COULD DRY UP—InsideClimate News: “The source of water used for drilling in the Alberta tar sands could dry up in the coming decades, according to new research released Monday. The questionable future of the Athabasca River threatens the longevity of fossil fuel extraction in the world's third-largest crude oil reserve. Scientists at the University of Regina and University of Western Ontario in Canada looked at 900 years of tree ring data and found water levels have dwindled along the 765-mile river at various points throughout its history.”

IAEA MAKING ‘SIGNIFICANT’ PROGRESS IN IRAN — The Los Angeles Times: “The International Atomic Energy Agency has made ’significant progress’ in its investigation of Iran’s nuclear activities, the head of the organization said Monday after a weekend visit during which United Nations officials were granted access to the controversial Parchin military site for the first time in nearly a decade. The visit was important to clarify issues related to a possible military dimension to Iran’s nuclear program, IAEA Director General Yukiya Amano told reporters after briefing the United Nations agency’s board of governors in Vienna. Amano said he and the agency’s deputy director, Tero Varjoranta, visited a building in Parchin on Sunday that international experts had previously only observed via satellite. Environmental samples were collected from the site before their visit and have been submitted to the IAEA for laboratory analysis, he said.”


--Oil climbs on supply hopes: The Wall Street Journal reports oil prices climbed on hopes that the U.S. cut in production would help limit the supply glut.

“Brent, the global benchmark, rose $1.45, or 3.1%, to $48.92 a barrel on ICE Futures Europe. Light, sweet crude for October delivery settled up $2, or 4.5%, at $46.68 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange.”

--The autumn winds are chilling natural gas demand and futures prices, the Journal reports.

“Natural gas futures for October delivery settled down 3.2 cents, or 1.2%, at $2.573 a million British thermal units on the New York Mercantile Exchange, the lowest settlement since April 28. Prices have fallen for five straight sessions.”

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