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POLITICO New York Energy: More gas safety oversight by state; REV America

By David Giambusso and Scott Waldman

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STATE TO TIGHTEN GAS SAFETY REGULATIONS — POLITICO New York’s Scott Waldman: Even before a gas explosion in Brooklyn over the weekend, the state was planning to tighten its oversight of training programs for workers who maintain natural gas pipelines. The Brooklyn blast killed two people and prompted Gov. Andrew Cuomo to order a state investigation. The state last week told federal regulators that they were trying to improve training as a result of a blast in Harlem last year that killed eight people and injured about 50. Earlier this year, federal regulators determined a gas pipe joint that was poorly welded by Con Edison workers and exacerbated by a sewer main breach neglected by the city for years were the "probable cause" of the blast. The National Transportation Safety Board placed most of the blame on Con Ed and the city for weak pipeline management and neglecting necessary street repairs.

AS GOES REV, SO GOES THE NATION — Vox’s David Roberts: “Reforming utilities is a perilous process, with intense politics and high stakes. Reliable service must be maintained throughout any transition — it's like rebuilding an airplane in flight. But if New York succeeds, REV could spark a wave of utility reform, with salutary effects on US carbon emissions (and the success of Obama's Clean Power Plan). If it blows up or falls apart, it could scare other states away from restructuring, just like Enron did in the early 2000s. It's arguably the most important clean energy policy initiative in the country today.”

MINORITY HIRING ON TRACK IN BUFFALO BILLION — The Buffalo News’ David Robinson: “Nearly one of every four workers on the SolarCity construction project during July were women or minorities, exceeding the workforce diversity targets set for the $900 million solar panel factory, Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown said Monday. The workforce data were the first specific figures that city and state officials have released regarding the composition of the construction workforce at the SolarCity site on South Park Avenue in South Buffalo.”


--General Electric announced Monday it had completed dredging of the Hudson River for pollutants it had dumped into the water for decades.

--Hundreds turned out for a rally to keep the FitzPatrick nuclear facility open.

--The Albany Times Union editorial board wants SUNY Poly’s Alain Kaloyeros to apologize for the school’s unsigned attack on a NYSERDA board member over a $1 land transfer.

--Siemens intentionally misrepresented annual energy savings for a cogeneration plant in Warren County.

--The Buffalo News’ Tom Precious tracks donor money in the Buffalo Billion project, including the SolarCity factory at its center.

--The Buffalo News ran an editorial cartoon celebrating economic strength returning to the Riverbend factory area.

--The state Department of Public Service has asked Verizon to provide more information about the maintenance of its copper lines.

--Showtime will debut a feature called “Pegulaville” tonight, about the Pegula family, the fracking billionaires and owner of the Buffalo Bills, and the revitalization of downtown Buffalo.

GOOD TUESDAY TO YOU: 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:

UN CLIMATE LANGUAGE GETS A HEAVY EDIT — POLITICO’s Andrew Restuccia: “The United Nations on Monday released a dramatically streamlined draft negotiating text that will form the foundation of the climate change deal countries hope to sign later this year in Paris. The new 20-page draft cuts more than 60 pages from the previous version of the document and comes after weeks of behind-the-scenes work by the co-chairmen of the U.N. climate talks, Ahmed Djoghlaf of Algeria and Daniel Reifsnyder of the United States. The co-chairmen were tasked with slimming down the bulky 83-page text into a more succinct, manageable document that would help negotiators focus on the biggest issues at interim negotiations in Bonn, Germany, that are scheduled for Oct. 19-23. The previous text was rife with repetitive language and confusing formatting, while the shorter, 20-page version presents the text in a clearer format that crystallizes the areas of disagreement. But the document does not resolve the most vexing issues facing negotiators. Diplomats will continue to wrestle with the issue of climate finance, which is the aid that wealthy countries fork over to help poorer nations deal with the effects of global warming.

--Climate shaming, courtesy of InsideClimate News: The folks over at ICN have compiled the top 10 nations that have not committed to the U.N. climate talks and their greenhouse gas production percentages.

CITIGROUP CUTS COAL FINANCING — Bloomberg: “Citigroup Inc., the third-biggest U.S. bank, said it will cut back on financing for coal mining projects, in the latest blow to the industry that’s viewed as a key contributor to global warming. Citigroup said its credit exposure to coal mining had ‘declined materially’ since 2011 and that the trend would continue into the future. The policy applies to companies that use mountaintop removal methods as well as coal-focused subsidiaries of diversified mining companies, according to the New York-based company’s Environmental & Social Policy Framework guidelines posted online Monday.”

THE TWEET OF THE DAY will not come from OPEC because it is not yet on Twitter or Facebook, but it may be soon. The Wall Street Journal reports the global oil cartel is looking to improve its image via social media.

OIL INDUSTRY GAINING IN EXPORT BAN — The New York Times’ Eric Lipton and Clifford Krauss: “After watching the price of oil and the size of their profits plunge, a dozen top executives from some of the nation’s largest oil exploration companies flew to Washington late last winter on an urgent mission: push Congress and the White House to allow unlimited exports of American crude oil. Now, their long-shot lobbying effort to repeal the 40-year-old export ban has gathered considerable momentum. Approval by the House is expected in the coming weeks and two Senate committees have already endorsed the idea. The White House and Senate Democrats may still move to block it, but the fact that the legislation is even moving ahead in an era of extreme gridlock affirms the deep-pocketed oil industry’s durable power in nation’s capital.”

SOLAR GETS HOT — Bloomberg BNA: “The concept of community solar is spreading quickly across the country, particularly in states with favorable legislation, such as Colorado and Minnesota, and utilities are starting to take notice and join the trend. With nearly 50 percent of households and businesses unable to host rooftop solar systems, community solar is a largely untapped market for consumers looking to invest in solar electricity, which is becoming cheaper than retail electricity in parts of the country. Both state policies and utilities have driven the growth of the industry. The majority of projects today are utility-sponsored. Customers pay up front or on a monthly basis to support establishment of a solar project in their local community. Then customers receive credit back on their electricity bills based on their contribution and how much electricity the solar project produced.”\

SUNCOR SMELLS BLOOD — The DealBook’s Ian Austen: “Apparently looking to exploit the collapse of oil prices, Suncor, the largest integrated energy company in Canada, announced a hostile takeover bid for Canadian Oil Sands on Monday that it valued at 6.6 billion Canadian dollars. If successful, the transaction will give Suncor control of Syncrude, Canada’s largest oil sands operation, in addition to its own oil sands holdings. Canadian Oil Sands’ only asset is a 36.7 percent stake in Syncrude; Suncor currently owns about 12 percent of Syncrude. Canada’s oil sands industry has been hit more severely by falling prices than conventional oil producers because of substantial costs related to creating crude oil from its deposits of tarlike bitumen.”

INDIA ASKS FOR $2.5 TRILLION TO REDUCE EMISSIONS — Bloomberg Business's Anindya Upadhyay: "Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government said India needs at least $2.5 trillion by 2030 to reduce the growth in fossil-fuel pollution under a program that stopped short of setting a target date for when emissions will fall. The nation will reduce the intensity of fossil-fuel emissions, a measure of pollution released per unit of economic growth, by 33 percent to 35 percent from 2005 levels by 2030, according to a document released by the government in New Delhi and submitted to the United Nations. It also pledged to boost the amount of power coming from non-fossil fuel sources to 40 percent from about 30 percent."

THE FROGS ARE DYING: The Washington Post reports on a new study showing that frog species are growing extinct at an alarming pace. The entire amphibious civilization, in fact, is not doing so hot. A researcher from Macquarie University in Australia has published a study examining recent extinctions within two vulnerable groups of animals — reptiles and amphibians — and the results are cause for alarm. Most notably, they indicate that approximately 200 frog species have already gone extinct, and hundreds more may be on their way out.”

CALIFORNIA CRUISING TOWARD CLEAN ENERGY GOALS — The New York Times’ Beth Gardiner: “California is cruising toward its 2020 goal for increasing renewable energy and is setting far more ambitious targets for the future. Its large-scale solar arrays produced more energy in 2014 than those in all other states combined. Half the nation’s solar home rooftops are in the state, and thousands more are added each week. With its progressive politics, high-tech bent and abundant sunshine, California is fast ramping up its production of clean electricity, setting an example its leaders hope the rest of the country, and other nations, will follow as they seek to cut emissions of climate-warming carbon dioxide.”


--Oil settles up: The Journal reports oil prices were boosted by cuts in US production.

“Light, sweet crude for November delivery settled up 72 cents, or 1.6%, to $46.26 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Brent, the global benchmark, rose $1.12, or 2.3%, to $49.25 a barrel on ICE Futures Europe.”

--Pleasant weather means it’s not hot enough to turn on the AC and not cold enough to turn on the heat, depressing natural gas prices.

“Futures for November delivery settled down 0.1 cent, or 0.04%, at $2.45 a million British thermal units on the New York Mercantile Exchange.”

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