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POLITICO New York Energy: Nuclear's New York legacy; Port Ambrose countdown

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.

COPING WITH NUCLEAR PHASE-OUTS — POLITICO New York’s David Giambusso: One doesn't have look hard in New York and throughout the region to see that the nuclear power industry has hit a rough patch. The James FitzPatrick nuclear plant in Oswego County may be closing. The Ginna plant is on life support. Gov. Andrew Cuomo says he wants to close Indian Point. Those closings and potential closings, combined with closure of Vermont Yankee in December and the announcement this month that Pilgrim in Massachusetts would be shuttered, herald what nuclear experts say is the inevitable denouement to the story of nuclear power in the United States. "I would call it an organic phase-out," said Mycle Schneider, a nuclear consultant based in Paris, during a conference at the New York Society for Ethical Culture on Thursday. "Nuclear's position is threatened by a number of factors." The question for state and federal regulators becomes how to safely and efficiently retire the nation's nuclear fleet, a task infinitely more complex than getting rid of a typical power plant.

CLOCK STARTS FOR GOVS’ VETO OF PORT AMBROSE — POLITICO New York’s David Giambusso: A day after Gov. Andrew Cuomo raised questions about the proposed Port Ambrose liquefied natural gas plant, federal regulators started the clock on the final phase of public comment. By Dec. 21, Cuomo and New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie will have to decide if they will approve the project, veto it or modify it. If either governor vetoes it, the project is dead. Before that happens though, advocates and opponents will have several more chances to weigh in. Public hearings on the offshore plant that would sit roughly 28 miles east of New Jersey and 19 miles south of Long Island will be held in Long Beach, New York, and Eatontown, New Jersey.

NYSERDA BOARD KNEW ABOUT TRANSFER IN ADVANCE — Albany Times Union’s Larry Rulison: “NYSERDA’s lawyers briefed members of the state energy agency’s board on plans to transfer the 180-acre Saratoga Technology + Energy Park in Malta to SUNY Polytechnic Institute weeks before a Sept. 21 meeting where they failed to approve the deal. Several NYSERDA board members appeared to be surprised or blindsided by the idea of the proposed transaction, part of a plan by NYSERDA to provide $10 million in funding to a SUNY Poly semiconductor research program. The most vocal was National Grid executive Ken Daly, whose suggestion that an independent review of the sale was needed in light of “ongoing audits” of SUNY Poly led to the vote being postponed. However, internal documents obtained by the Times Union show that NYSERDA lawyers began talking with individual board members about plans for the STEP transfer to SUNY Poly more than a month before the scheduled vote.”

LIPA REFINANCES — Newsday’s Mark Harrington: “LIPA refinanced $1 billion in old debt Thursday by issuing that amount in new bonds at lower interest rates in a transaction the utility said will save $128 million. The bond sale was the first of three transactions aimed at slicing $172 million from LIPA and PSEG Long Island's three-year rate hike that is expected to go into effect next year. Even with those savings, the utility still needs to raise $325.4 million in new revenue from ratepayers between 2016 and 2018.”


--New York City officials are asking for another six months to respond to the National Transportation Safety Board’s finding of fault in a March 2013 Harlem gas explosion that killed eight.

--Heating bills this winter are expected to drop by about 10 percent over last year, according to state projections announced Thursday.

--The New York City Council getting greener: The City Council passed a bill Thursday that mandates air quality surveys throughout the city and gleans data on how pollution is affected by factors like traffic and building emissions. Councilmembers also introduced a bill, Intro 962, that would would cut the city government's greenhouse gas emissions 40 percent by 2030 — a step toward the city's ultimate goal of reducing emissions citywide 80 percent by 2050.

--The state DMV will not automatically flunk Volkswagens when their owners bring them in for

annual inspections or withhold registration renewals.

--U.S. Rep. Paul Tonko said a natural gas plant outside Albany is a model of energy efficiency.

--SolarCity’s reduced minority hiring numbers are now being met.

--The Utica Observer-Dispatch’s editorial board argues that state officials and environmentalists must be vigilant to keep unused oil trains out of the Adirondacks.

--Businesses and green groups don’t have to be at odds when it comes to green energy, state Senate Environmental Conservation Committee Chairman Tom O’Mara said.

--Finger Lakes mad about NYC trash: From the annals of dog bites man, the folks in New York’s wine country are not pleased with the prospect of housing more city trash, the Journal News reports.

HAPPY FRIDAY: 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:

AMERICANS’ DENIAL OF CLIMATE CHANGE HITS RECORD LOW — Time’s Justin Worland: “Only 16% of Americans believe there is not enough evidence to prove global climate change is real, the lowest percentage since a survey began asking the question in 2008. The study, which reports the result of a survey of more than 900 Americans from the National Surveys on Energy and Environment, shows that 70% of U.S. residents believe evidence supporting global warming. That’s a 7 percentage point increase over the spring of 2015 and a 10 percentage point increase from last fall.”

COAL COMPANY FUNDED CLIMATE SKEPTIC — The Wall Street Journal’s Patrick Fitzgerald: “Bankrupt coal company Alpha Natural Resources Inc. paid lawyer Chris Horner $18,600 before it filed for chapter 11 this summer. Virginia-based Alpha made three $6,200 payments to Mr. Horner, an author and global warming skeptic who has been accused of harassing climate scientists, between May and July of this year, according to documents filed earlier this month in the company’s bankruptcy case. The relationship between Alpha and Mr. Horner, whose books include ‘Red Hot Lies: How Global Warming Alarmists Use Threats, Fraud and Deception to Keep You Misinformed’ and ‘The Politically Incorrect Guide to Global Warming and Environmentalism,’ previously was reported by the Intercept in an article on how the coal industry was funding think tanks that deny climate change.”

CLEANING UP VERMONT YANKEE: Almost a year after its shutdown, NPR reports the Vermont Yankee nuclear power plant is still sparking debate over safety, spending and the disposal of nuclear waste.

FRACKING SAND FIGHT CONTINUES — InsideClimate News: “The market that supplies special sand to oil and gas companies for fracking wells is down more than 50 percent from last year. But those opposing the sand industry for its threat to property values, the environment and public health aren't celebrating — they are fighting harder to shut down the industry for good. 'In terms of opposition to frac sand mining, there really is no lull at this point,' said Johanna Rupprecht, a policy organizer with the Minnesota-based Land Stewardship Project. 'People are as concerned about this as they’ve ever been ... I don't think anybody on the ground really believes the downturn is permanent,' she [said]. An oil glut has driven down prices and sent the entire fracking industry into a tailspin over the summer. That's also when Land Stewardship Project launched a campaign to ban the industry from expanding in Minnesota's Winona County. Small towns across eastern Minnesota and western Wisconsin are taking action in a different way, including efforts to pass stricter zoning rules and to boot pro-sand leaders out of office.”

TWEET OF THE DAY: Bill McKibben is so steamed at recent stories in the L.A Times and InsideClimate News regarding Exxon’s knowledge of global warming, that he went down to the local gas station in Burlington and got himself arrested. Here’s the tweet:

JERSEY MAN FIGHTING FOR COAL — Bloomberg View: “Patrick Morrisey, the leader of the fight against President Barack Obama's plan to cut carbon emissions from power plants, has an affinity for long-shot campaigns. He's also gotten better at winning them. In 2000, Morrisey, then a 32-year-old health-care lawyer, had just left his job with the House Energy and Commerce Committee to run for the Republican nomination in New Jersey's 7th congressional district. His chances were not good: The other candidates had better name recognition and more money, according to Joel Weingarten, one of Morrisey's opponents. And despite growing up in nearby Edison, Morrisey had moved to Washington six years earlier, branding him an outsider...He came in fourth." Morrissey later went on to win the state AG's race in West Virginia. Now he's fighting the Obama Administration for the survival of coal.

MORE FEDERAL AGENCIES JOIN VW PROBE — The Wall Street Journal’s Aruna Viswanatha and Mike Spector: “The U.S.Attorney’s office in Detroit and the Justice Department’s Fraud Section joined a sweeping federal probe of Volkswagen AG over emissions-test cheating, according to people familiar with the matter, signaling the government’s intent to cast a broad net and explore numerous paths to a possible criminal case. The number of federal offices now involved in the Volkswagen case suggests an investigation could target the German auto maker and its employees for alleged offenses ranging from pollution to misleading government officials to claims made to consumers. The Federal Trade Commission, which investigates fraudulent advertising, confirmed its involvement, suggesting a focus on potentially misleading claims regarding the emissions.”

T. BOONE BETS ON WIND — The New York Times: “T. Boone Pickens made billions drilling for oil and gas and squaring off in bare-knuckled corporate takeover bouts. Now the 87-year-old tycoon is embroiled in what may be the last big battle of his career. Only this one is aimed thousands of miles north of his Texas home. And it is over wind power. It is an unusual fight for the former wildcatter. Mr. Pickens is using his rights under the North American Free Trade Agreement to bring claims against the Canadian province of Ontario. And a Florida company that has provoked his ire is one that is usually on the same side as Mr. Pickens when it comes to regulation and politics — in particular, in helping Jeb Bush get elected president.”


--Oil continues its supply slide: The Wall Street Journal reports oversupply continues to roil the price of oil.

“Light, sweet crude for November delivery settled down 26 cents, or 0.6%, to $46.38 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Brent, the global benchmark, fell 44 cents, or 0.9%, to $48.71 a barrel on ICE Futures Europe.”

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