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POLITICO New York Energy: State awaiting official word on plant closing; IG report faults DEC practice

By David Giambusso and Scott Waldman

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CUOMO: STATE AWAITING OFFICIAL WORD ON PLANT CLOSING — POLITICO New York’s Scott Waldman: Gov. Andrew Cuomo said the state is waiting for an official closure notice from the operators of an Oswego County nuclear facility before his administration responds. The James A. Fitzpatrick nuclear facility could be closed by early 2017, the plant’s operator, Entergy, announced earlier this month. Cuomo told reporters in Syracuse on Wednesday that the plant's operators must first give the state official notice before it plans to close. “Thinking about it creates anxiety,” he said. “But if it becomes a real decision, they'll have to give the state notice and then we'll focus on it at that time.”

INSPECTOR GENERAL: DEC DID NOT KEEP PROPER RECORDS — POLITICO New York’s Scott Waldman: A three-year investigation of the state Department of Environmental Conservation concluded the department failed to properly track years of fishing reports, allowed arresting officers to improperly negotiate plea bargains and failed to return items confiscated during arrests. In a report released Wednesday, state Inspector General Catherine Leahy Scott said investigators found thousands of daily reports that fishermen are required to fill out stuffed in boxes and not properly entered into databases used to maintain fishing stock. The reports covered the period from 2008 to 2011. More than 10,000 from each year were found.

NYSERDA CHANGED REAL ESTATE PROPERTY AFTER TRANSFER DEAL — Albany Times Union’s Larry Rulison: “The NYSERDA board of directors changed the authority’s policies regarding the sale of real estate just seven days after Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s budget director proposed transferring the 280-acre Saratoga Technology + Energy Park in Malta to SUNY Polytechnic Institute in an unusual deal. The change, voted on by the NYSERDA board on June 24, 2014, added a subsection to NYSERDA’s real estate disposition policies on how the authority should handle the sale of property for ‘less than fair market value.’ The move by the NYSERDA board is notable because it appears to have given NYSERDA management the latitude to try and sell the STEP tech campus to SUNY Poly for just $1. Since the property has been appraised at $9 million, the sale is technically considered to be for less than fair value.”

NOTHING TO SEE HERE — While in Syracuse Wednesday, Gov. Andrew Cuomo said he was happy with the way contracts on economic developments around the state have been executed, despite news reports that U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara’s office has issued a flurry of subpoenas. Cuomo once again brushed off questions about subpoenas served on SUNY Polytechnic Institute, which is building a solar panel factory in Buffalo as part of the governor’s Buffalo Billion initiative. While Bharara is looking into how the construction contracts were awarded in Buffalo, Senate Majority Leader John Flanagan said it was within the “purview of the executive” to weigh whether a change on how contracts are awarded is needed. Flanagan agreed that the “mood is different” given Bharara’s interest in Albany, but said lawmakers have nothing to worry about if they didn’t do anything improper.

NJ SENATORS PUSH CHRISTIE ON WIND — POLITICO New Jersey’s David Giambusso: U.S. Sens. Bob Menendez and Cory Booker and Rep. Frank Pallone sent a letter to Gov. Chris Christie Wednesday urging him to take action on offshore wind development, lest the opportunity pass New Jersey by. Last week, the federal Bureau of Ocean Energy Management declared it would auction 344,000 acres of ocean off the coast of New Jersey for wind energy development. POLITICO New Jersey reported this week that New Jersey is lagging far behind New York and New England in developing a plan for offshore wind.


--Council members file amicus brief in Indian Point case: City council members filed an amicus brief this week in support of Assemblyman Richard Brodsky's appeal to the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit calling for the plant to undergo sweeping safety measures the Associated Press reports.

--We may just get massive flooding: Such is the latest prognosis for Hurricane Joaquin, according to The Star-Ledger’s Steve Stirling. The hurricane, as of Wednesday night, was expected to make landfall near the Chesapeake Bay area, but could still cause major flooding along the mid- and north Atlantic coast.

--Theater group promotes a Red Hook microgrid: If you’re into live performance and renewable energy be sure to check out Red Hook’s Kaluk — a theater group hired to promote the Brooklyn neighborhood’s microgrid. The New Yorker has the scoop:

--The state quietly reduced the minority-hiring goals for the SolarCity Riverbend campus.

--NY 1’s Zach Fink takes a look at some issues in the SolarCity deal.

--SolarCity’s CEO said the company wants to quadruple its customer base by 2018.

--The company that wants to store oil trains in the Adirondacks sent a letter threatening arrest for trespassing to a prominent environmental advocate who took a reporter onto the rail yard property.

--A third of the nation’s residential solar panels were installed by SolarCity in the first half of 2015, more than double any other installer, according to data released Wednesday.

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FEDERAL JUDGE BLOCKS FRACKING RULES — The New York Times’ Coral Davenport: “A federal judge on Wednesday blocked the Obama administration’s first major regulations on hydraulic fracturing, a technique for oil and gas drilling that has led to a boom in American energy production but has also raised concerns about health and safety risks. The United States District Court for Wyoming issued a preliminary injunction preventing the Interior Department from carrying out the rules, which were issued in March by the department’s Bureau of Land Management. The ruling, however, stops regulations aimed at only a small fraction of the nation’s domestic oil and gas production. The Interior Department began drafting the rules, focused on drilling safety, in Mr. Obama’s first term after breakthroughs in the technology, also known as fracking, led to a surge in the production of oil and gas.”

AP’S CLIMATE PARLANCE The Associated Press Stylebook is a much-relied upon guide to appropriate grammar, punctuation and usage in newsrooms across America, this one included. So when AP recommended that those unconvinced of manmade climate change be called “doubters” as opposed to “deniers” or “skeptics” or “lunatics,” the decision sparked an Orwellian debate on the use of language in a politically charged, albeit scientifically settled, debate. InsideClimate News reports.

--Here is Mr. Orwell’s 1946 essay titled Politics and the English Language.

BANK OF ENGLAND GOVERNOR DECLARES RISK OF CLIMATE CHANGE — The New York Times’ Neil Irwin: “A new speech about climate change is fascinating both for what it says and who said it. Mark Carney, the governor of the Bank of England, declared that the warming climate presented major risks for the global economy and global financial stability, and that businesses and regulators needed to move more quickly to try to contain the potential economic damage even though it may seem uncertain and far off. His warning, delivered in a 4,400-word speech with ample footnotes on Tuesday, is the latest example of how climate change has moved beyond theoretical scientific debates to the start of practical planning for safeguarding the economy and business.”

MASSACHUSETTS EXPLORES OFFSHORE WIND—The Associated Press: “Gov. Charlie Baker told a packed Statehouse hearing Tuesday that he's open to exploring long-term contracts with utilities for offshore wind and hydropower as ways to both lower energy costs and lower the state's carbon footprint. The state currently doesn't have the authority to allow utilities to pursue long-term contacts — up to 15 or 25 years — with large scale renewable energy producers like wind, solar or hydropower, said Baker, who testified on two of his energy bills. Baker told lawmakers he's not only interested in lowering the state's carbon emissions, but in driving down energy costs by diversifying sources of power, including hydropower — or a combination of hydropower and wind or solar.”

GRID FACES CYBERSECURITY THREATS — EnergyWire’s Behr: “A unique collaboration among the Energy Department's national laboratories is seeking to close high-priority technology gaps facing the U.S. power grid, as it deals with disruptive operating changes and cybersecurity threats. [Wednesday was] the deadline for federal laboratories to submit bids for research grants to initiate the program. The grants span a wide agenda of technology issues, including integrating renewable energy generation, storage devices, electric vehicles and ’smart buildings’ into power networks; improving cybersecurity of utilities' vendor supply chain; and giving control room operators more tools to manage the grid in emergencies. The grants are projected to total nearly $200 million in all over the next three fiscal years. DOE's 17 laboratories have an annual budget of about $13.5 billion. The project calls for the creation of a single operating plan between DOE headquarters and the laboratories.”

ALBERTA LEADER: NO FUTURE IN TAR SANDS — The Guardian: “The leader of Canada’s biggest oil-producing province has declared she sees no long-term future in fossil fuels, predicting Alberta would wean itself off dirty energy within a century. In an early reveal of her forthcoming new energy policy, Alberta’s Rachel Notley said she would fight climate change by cleaning up the tar sands, shutting down coal-fired power plants, and converting to wind and solar power. Notley also forecast an eventual future beyond fossil fuels — a dramatic change for Alberta — and a track that has put her on a collision course with Canada’s conservative prime minister, Stephen Harper. The Alberta leader is due to unveil the new policy ahead of the international UN climate conference in Paris this December.”

HOUSE ENERGY BILL ADVANCES — POLITICO’s Darren Goode: “The House Energy and Commerce Committee voted mostly along party lines on Wednesday to advance a sweeping energy bill after the collapse of months of negotiations aimed at securingbroader bipartisan support. The House bill faced a tough road from the start, and lawmakers' enthusiasm for a grand bargain has waned with the approach of the 2016 election. Wednesday's 32-20 vote delivered an unsurprising conclusion to the markup, after Republicans on Tuesday introduced a new version of the bill that included several items Democrats firmly opposed. Three Democrats — Gene Green of Texas, Jerry McNerney of California and Kurt Schrader of Ohio — sided with Republicans in supporting the bill. Democrats said the measure fell far short in addressing climate change and spent most of the five-hour-plus markup offering amendments to underscore that point. For example, Rep. Frank Pallone (D-N.J.), the committee's ranking member, offered an amendment to prevent the bill from taking effectuntil the Energy Information Administrationanalyzed its "carbon impacts." The amendment failed on a 23-29 party-line vote.” [PRO]


--Oil ends lower after a day of flip-flopping the Wall Street Journal reports.

“Light, sweet crude for November delivery settled down 14 cents, or 0.3%, at $45.09 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Brent, the global benchmark, settled up 14 cents, or 0.3%, at $48.37 a barrel on ICE Futures Europe.”

--Natural gas prices fell on predictions of mild temperatures in the first part of Autumn, the Journal reports.

“Prices for the front-month November contract fell 6.2 cents, or 2.4%, to $2.524 a million British thermal units on the New York Mercantile Exchange. It was the lowest settlement since April 28.”

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