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POLITICO New York Energy, presented by Professional Women in Advocacy Conference: SUNY Poly wants NYSERDA property; foam ban overturned

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.

SUNY POLY TRYING TO ACQUIRE NYSERDA FACILITY FOR $1—POLITICO New York’s Scott Waldman: A real estate arm of SUNY Polytechnic Institute is trying to acquire a 280-acre property in Saratoga County from the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority. But amid reports of subpoenas for the school and greater scrutiny of state contracts, the authority took no action on the issue when its officials met this week. The property transfer price is listed as $1 in a draft contract between NYSERDA and Fuller Road Management Corp., a nonprofit that leases and develops property for SUNY Poly, according to a copy obtained by POLITICO New York. The Saratoga Technology + Energy Park, near the GlobalFoundries chip fab, is approved for 1 million square feet of office, manufacturing and research and development space.

--Chris Churchill writes that “SUNY Poly just awarded a contract for dormitory construction to Columbia Development, whose entities have given at least $175,000 to the governor's campaign fund since the start of 2014.”

STATE: MORE TRANSMISSION LINES NEEDED—POLITICO New York’s Scott Waldman: The state has determined that more transmission lines are needed to bring upstate power to meet downstate’s power demand. The Department of Public Service on Tuesday released a long-awaited report that found additional alternating current transmission lines were needed in the Hudson Valley to eliminate congestion on the electrical grid. The report is the first significant step forward in some time for Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s Energy Highway plan, which has been criticized for its delays, though it stops short of determining when the construction phase could actually begin. The report states that transmission projects proposed for the Hudson Valley balance "the issues of transfer capability; cost; electric system impacts, emissions reductions, and production cost impacts."

FOAM BAN OVERTURNED — POLITICO New York’s David Giambusso: Chicken kebabs and Chinese food can remain safely ensconced in beds of polystyrene, after a state Supreme Court justice overturned the city's ban on foam containers Tuesday in a significant reversal for Mayor Bill de Blasio's environmental agenda. But there could be a kernel of good news for the environment buried in Justice Margaret Chan's decision: recycling options for foam containers may be expanding.

**A message from Professional Women in Advocacy Conference: Register today using code POLNY and receive $25 off the Professional Women in Advocacy Conference, November 16-17 in Washington DC. The theme for 2015 is The Modern Advocate. Join 400 women advocates to learn techy tips to improve your advocacy effectiveness. Register Here **


--Environmental groups are appealing a judge’s decision to dismiss their lawsuit over the Cuomo administration’s plan to refire an aging coal plant in Western New York.

--Geothermal gets City Council hearing: Mayor Bill de Blasio's administration urged caution over a City Council bill that would expand the availability of geothermal energy in the city during an Environmental Protection Committee hearing Tuesday.

--The Guardian produced a video that claims the pipeline that will pass by the Indian Point nuclear center “could destroy New York State.”

--Things got tense between Attorney General Eric Schneiderman and Investigative Post reporter Jim Heaney over the Buffalo Billion investigation.

GOOD WEDNESDAY 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:

VW EMISSIONS PROBE EXPANDS WORLDWIDE—The New York Times’ Jack Ewing: “A scandal that has undermined Volkswagen in the United States spread to its core market of Europe on Tuesday, after the company said that 11 million of its diesel cars worldwide were equipped with software that was used to cheat on emissions tests. Volkswagen did not provide information on where the affected cars are, but the overwhelming majority are probably in Europe, where the company dominates the market and accounts for more than one of every four cars sold. The German automaker said it was setting aside the equivalent of half a year’s profits — 6.5 billion euros, or about $7.3 billion — to cover the cost of fixing the cars to comply with pollution standards and to cover other expenses, which are likely to include fines as well as responses to civil lawsuits from angry customers.”

--Here’s how VW got away with it.

--’In which a cappuccino-sipping media professional loses the smug sense of superiority he once achieved just by driving a Jetta Sportwagen TDI.’

-- New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman’s office has begun its own investigation into German car manufacturer Volkswagen, after the company admitted to cheating emission standards on some of its diesel vehicles. The A.G. is joining what it described as a “growing multi-state group investigation” into Volkswagen’s actions, which will be looking at both potential environmental law violations as well as fraud.

SENATE DEMS UNVEIL CLIMATE CHANGE MEASURE—The New York Times’ Coral Davenport: “Senate Democratic leaders on Tuesday plan to unveil a measure intended to signal their support of President Obama’s aggressive climate change agenda to 2016 voters and to the rest of the world. The Democrats hope that the bill, sponsored by Senator Maria Cantwell, of Washington, the top Democrat on the Senate Energy Committee, will demonstrate a new unity for the party on energy and climate change, and define Democrats’ approach to global warming policy in the coming years. The measure would establish as United States policy a reduction of greenhouse gas emissions by 2 percent each year through 2025 — a cut even larger than the target set by the Obama administration.”

SCOOP! POPE’S HERE: The New York Times along with thousands of global news agencies report that Pope Francis has arrived for the first time in the United States. He’ll be in New York City Thursday evening.

CHURCH OFFICIALS GO AGAINST POPE ON CLIMATE CHANGE—Reuters’ Richard Valdmanis: “Casting the fight against climate change as an urgent moral duty, Pope Francis in June urged the world to phase out highly-polluting fossil fuels. Yet in the heart of U.S. oil country several dioceses and other Catholic institutions are leasing out drilling rights to oil and gas companies to bolster their finances, Reuters has found. And in one archdiocese -- Oklahoma City -- Church officials have signed three new oil and gas leases since Francis's missive on the environment, leasing documents show. On Francis' first visit to the United States this week, the business dealings suggest that some leaders of the U.S. Catholic Church are practicing a different approach to the environment than the pontiff is preaching.”

EXXON DERIDED EMPLOYEES’ CLIMATE WORK—InsideClimate’s Lisa Song, Neela Banerjee, David Hasemyer: “Through much of the 1980s, Exxon researchers worked alongside university and government scientists to generate objective climate models that yielded papers published in peer-reviewed journals. Their work confirmed the emerging scientific consensus on global warming's risks. Yet starting in 1989, Exxon leaders went down a different road. They repeatedly argued that the uncertainty inherent in computer models makes them useless for important policy decisions. Even as the models grew more powerful and reliable, Exxon publicly derided the type of work its own scientists had done. The company continued its involvement with climate research, but its reputation for objectivity began to erode as it campaigned internationally to cast doubt on the science.”

CLINTON SAYS NO TO KEYSTONE — The Wall Street Journal: “Hillary Clinton on Tuesday broke her silence on the long-disputed Keystone XL pipeline, saying in Iowa that she opposes the project and sees it as a “distraction from the important work we have to do to combat climate change.” For months, Mrs. Clinton didn’t offer her stance on the pipeline. The State Department, which she led in President Barack Obama’s first term, is the lead agency in a yearslong review of the project, and Mrs. Clinton had said it would be inappropriate for her to spell out her views while the process was going on. But the Democratic presidential candidate continued to be asked about the pipeline on the campaign trail. At a campaign stop in New Hampshire this summer, after a man asked her for a “yes or no” answer on whether she supports the pipeline, Mrs. Clinton refused to say, suggesting people might need to wait until she is president to learn her position. With the Obama administration moving slowly in reviewing the pipeline, Mrs. Clinton said Tuesday she could no longer wait.”

MURRAY ENERGY SUING BLOOMBERG: SNL Energy’s Taylor Kuykendall reports, “Murray Energy Corp. is suing Bloomberg LP over a claim that a Bloomberg Business report published in August was part of a ‘conspiracy to breach [a] confidentiality agreement’ and publicized trade secret information about the coal miner.” Essentially Murray is upset because the report cited unnamed sources that said the company lowered its earnings recommendation. What Murray calls a “conspiracy” on the part of Bloomberg is what the Supreme Court has tended to call “First Amendment protections” for the last century or so.

PEABODY PROTEST SONG REMAINS: Peabody Energy is still mad about John Prine’s 1971 protest song, “Paradise,” and asked that the lyrics of the song be stricken from a lawsuit filed against them by a Colorado couple arrested outside a Peabody board meeting in 2013. The song protested Peabody’s Kentucky mining activities saying, “"And daddy won't you take me back to Muhlenberg County, Down by the Green River where Paradise lay? Well, I'm sorry my son, but you're too late in asking. Mister Peabody's coal train has hauled it away." U.S. Magistrate Kelly Rankin to relax and allowed the language to stay.

--Think that John Prine song goes a little something like this:

FRACK SAND INDUSTRY COLLAPSING—Bloomberg’s David Wethe: “In New Auburn, Wisconsin, a desolate, little outpost carved from the rolling pine-tree forests that run into Lake Superior, the collapse in oil is wreaking havoc on every aspect of the economy. It’s not that there’s any oil here. None in fact for hundreds of miles around. What they’ve got is sand. Real good sand, piled high in giant mounds. And in what is a little-known offshoot of the shale oil revolution that swept across America over the past decade, the market for sand -- the grit that props open the rocks and makes fracking possible -- exploded too, transforming almost overnight what had been a sleepy industry that sold primarily to the likes of glass makers and golf courses. So when the shale boom went bust, it took down the sand industry with it. Prices have sunk almost a third to under $40 per ton.”


--Oil slips on inventory boost: The Wall Street Journal reports oil took a dive on news that U.S. stockpiles are at a record high.

“Light, sweet crude for October delivery settled down 85 cents, or 1.8%, at $45.83 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The October contract expired at settlement Tuesday. The more-actively traded November contract fell 60 cents, or 1.3%, to $46.36 a barrel.”

--European crude and gasoline are up: “Brent, the global benchmark, rose 16 cents, or 0.3%, to $49.08 a barrel on ICE Futures Europe. Gasoline futures settled up 1.33 cents, or 0.9%, at $1.4164 a gallon. Diesel futures rose 1.8 cents, or 1.2%, to $1.532 a gallon."

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