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POLITICO New York Energy: Projects of interest to Bharara; NYC building-emissions push

By David Giambusso and Scott Waldman

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SUBPOENA CITY: The New York TImes reports that a recent subpoena served on SUNY Polytechnic by US Attorney Preet Bharara is seeking information on how contracts were awarded by Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s administration in his ‘Buffalo Billion’ initiative — a massive economic development program designed to revitalize the upstate city’s economy. “The subpoena to SUNY Polytechnic indicated that at least three state-funded projects from the Buffalo Billion are of interest to federal authorities. One is the governor’s flagship Buffalo project, a solar panel factory for SolarCity, whose chairman is Elon Musk, the chief executive of Tesla Motors. Mr. Cuomo has pledged to invest $750 million on this, and claimed it would create 5,000 jobs, 3,000 of which would be in Western New York. Construction of this facility is underway and it could open in early 2016, officials have said.”

DE BLASIO ANNOUNCES MAJOR PUSH IN CUTTING BUILDING EMISSIONS — POLITICO New York's David Giambusso: Mayor Bill de Blasio will announce a multi-faceted push by City Hall today to jumpstart his plan to cut greenhouse gas emissions in private buildings 80 percent by the year 2050. The mayor will roll out a retrofit accelerator — a free one-stop shop for private landlords to refurbish buildings for energy efficiency, clean energy and water conservation. De Blasio's stated goal is to cut building emissions by about one million metric tons through retrofits in roughly 1,000 buildings a year by 2025. If successful, the city said the reductions will be the equivalent of taking 200,000 cars off the road and save building owners $350 million a year in utility costs. "Business as usual simply won't do when our very survival is at stake," de Blasio said in a statement. "We're ensuring that building owners have the tools they need to go green through the NYC Retrofit Accelerator."

ANALYST: TIGHTER EMISSIONS GOALS WON’T SAVE NUCLEAR—POLITICO New York’s Scott Waldman: Market analysts are warning investors about New York’s nuclear plant operators as two such facilities face possible closure. Exelon plans to close the R.E. Ginna nuclear facility in Western New York, and Entergy said earlier this month it may close the James A. FitzPatrick nuclear facility outside Syracuse. Other nuclear facilities in New York are also at risk of closure. New York’s nuclear plants have been beset by competition from cheap natural gas and rising infrastructure costs, part of a national trend that has challenged the industry. A series of proposed pipelines into New York will further hurt it by increasing the state's supply of natural gas, according to an analysis released Thursday by UBS analyst Julien Dumoulin-Smith.


--Federal regulators have rejected a small piece of the state’s attempt to heighten scrutiny of the Indian Point nuclear facility.

--Memorial services have been planned for the East Village environmentalist who fought for the city’s gardens in the 1980s and 1990s.

--“You’re basically seeing all of the sunrises and sunsets across the world, all at once, being reflected off the surface of the moon.” Hopefully, you got out and saw the blood moon lunar eclipse last night.

--Photovoltaic wine: Four Finger Lakes wineries will convert to solar energy to provide 50 to 100 percent of their energy needs.

--Delay on thruway charging stations: The Journal News reports, “fast charging stations at four travel plazas between Exit 17 in Newburgh and Exit 21 in Catskill that were initially slated for summer installation are now expected to come later this year.”

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FRENCH PRESIDENT TO ADDRESS CLIMATE AT UN—The New York Times’ Alissa Rubin: Climate is expected to be a central part of French President’s President François Hollande address to the United Nations General Assembly today. “The French president will focus almost entirely on the United Nations’ climate conference, which is being held in Paris two months after the General Assembly meeting. For Mr. Hollande, this will be an opportunity to cajole, guilt-trip and persuade fellow heads of state to come forward with pledges to reduce their carbon emissions and move toward renewable energy sources.”

GOOGLE’S SOLAR PUSH—Slate’s Eric Holthaus: “Google’s been busy rebranding itself as a 21st-century jack-of-all-trades. On Monday, it announced a revolutionary way of finding an easy answer to one of the most difficult questions for climate-conscious homeowners: Should I install solar panels? Enter Project Sunroof, an application of Google Maps that aims to quickly cut through the paralyzingly complicated calculations that go into whether your house is well-suited to generate its own power from that giant nuclear furnace in the sky.”

VW EMISSIONS PROBLEMS STARTED AT THE TOP—Bloomberg’s Alex Webb and David Welch: “Volkswagen AG executives in Germany controlled the key aspects of emissions tests whose results the carmaker now admits were faked, according to three people familiar with the company’s U.S. operations. The criteria, outcomes and engineering of cars that missed emissions targets were overseen by managers at Volkswagen’s base in Wolfsburg, according to the people who asked not to be identified because they weren’t authorized to speak publicly.

Their accounts show the chain of command and those involved in the deception stretched to Volkswagen headquarters. While the company has asked German prosecutors to open an investigation, the executive committee of the supervisory board has backed former Chief Executive Martin Winterkorn’s statement that he knew nothing about the malfeasance.”

FIREFIGHTERS BARELY HANGING ON: With record drought and punishing wildfires in the western part of North America, the New York Times reports firefighters are struggling to keep the flames at bay. “In this relentless wildfire season, when fire crews and resources are stretched thin from the foothills of the Rockies to Alaska’s wilderness, the latest enemy confronting firefighters is not flame. It is grinding exhaustion.”

COAL’S BRIGHT SPOT IS PIZZA OVENS—Boston Globe’s Mario Parker and Leslie Patton: “Coal is finding its way back into the nation’s favor -- one pizza at a time. The growing appetite for coal-fired pizza is creating new demand for anthracite coal -- it’s the hardest kind and burns the hottest. “That market just kind of snuck up on us,” Greg Driscoll, chief executive officer of Pennsylvania producer Blaschak Coal Corp., said in an interview. “It’s sort of in the face of everything that is going on. The US coal industry is dealing with its worst market slump in decades because of a global supply glut, escalating competition from cheap natural gas and tighter regulations as policy makers try to wean the power market off of fossil fuels. While anthracite represents a fraction of total US coal production, increasing demand for the product is one bright spot in a sea of bad news.”

CA REGULATORS CUT CARBON—The New York Times’ Ian Lovett: “California air regulators on Friday approved a substantial cut to carbon pollution from gasoline and diesel fuels, a move that will force oil producers to reduce the amount of carbon generated by all transportation fuels in the state at least 10 percent by 2020. The action, coming two weeks after a stinging defeat for Gov. Jerry Brown’s planned 50 percent cut in petroleum use by 2030, signaled his administration’s determination to press forward with an aggressive environmental agenda through the regulatory process rather than by legislation.”

THE SOAP OPERA BEHIND THE OIL BOOM—Marketplace’s Annie Baxter: “It was only a matter of time before Hollywood took on an obvious target: the drama of North Dakota's oil boom. "Blood & Oil," a nighttime soap opera, premieres on ABC this Sunday. And it chronicles characters in North Dakota's oil patch-- where even low-skilled workers could at one point make gobs of money. Don Johnson of Miami Vice fame plays an oil tycoon. Slate TV critic Willa Paskin says the oil boom is, theoretically, a great premise for a show. “You can see exactly the kind of drama that would be: a serious, gritty drama that's really involved with themes of lawlessness and masculinity and the American West,” she says.”

UK PLEDGES $8.8B IN CLIMATE AID — Bloomberg: “U.K. Prime Minister David Cameron pledged to increase climate aid by a half in a bid to break the deadlock on one of the thorniest issues dividing developed and developing nations as they seek to broker a new deal to rein in global warming. Britain will channel 5.8 billion pounds ($8.8 billion) of assistance from its overseas-aid budget to its International Climate Fund over the five years through March 2021, Cameron said Sunday in an e-mailed statement. Britain will also try to leverage nearly as much again in private finance to complement the assistance.”

UN EXEC SAYS ENERGY GOAL IS REACHABLE, BUT TOUGH—UN News Centre: United Nations Deputy Secretary-General Jan Eliasson today welcomed the adoption of the first-ever universal goal on energy, but cautioned that it will take “arduous work” to reach the targets needed to end poverty and combat climate change as part of the new sustainable development agenda.


--Oil rose on Friday: A drop in U.S. production helped boost oil prices Friday, the Wall Street Journal reports.

“Light, sweet crude for November delivery settled up 79 cents, or 1.8%, at $45.70 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Prices rose 1.5% on the week. Brent, the global benchmark, 43 90 cents, or 0.9%, to $48.60 a barrel on ICE Futures Europe, posting a 2.4% weekly gain.”

--Natural gas, on the other hand, fell on signs of excess supply and weakening demand.

“Natural-gas futures for November delivery settled down 2.7 cents, or 1%, at $2.564 a million British thermal units on the New York Mercantile Exchange, the lowest settlement since April 28. Prices fell 1.6% on the week.”

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