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POLITICO New York Energy, presented by Nuclear Matters: Schneiderman joins CPP defense; telecoms urge 'light touch'

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 newyork@politicopro.com 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.

SCHNEIDERMAN TO DEFEND CLEAN POWER PLAN—POLITICO New York’s Scott Waldman: Attorney General Eric Schneiderman is preparing to defend in court one of the Obama administration’s signature environmental initiatives. The Clean Power Plan would restrict air pollution from power plants and will likely curtail the nation’s reliance on coal to create electricity. Though it was finalized months ago, the Clean Power Plan was formally introduced into the federal register on Friday, officially opening it up to the expected legal challenges.

About two dozen states, led by West Virginia's Republican attorney general Patrick Morrisey and including attorneys general from many other coal-producing regions, joined with business groups to mount a legal challenge to the rule on Friday, which will likely eventually wind up in the U.S. Supreme Court. New York is among more than a dozen states, including California, Illinois and Iowa, as well as a few cities that will fight to support the rule in court. http://politi.co/1RvPw4q

—Christie opposed: In a statement Friday, Gov. Chris Christie said the new federal rule is "fundamentally flawed" and represents an unlawful overreach of authority. “This plan will also burden New Jersey residents with higher electricity costs and it infringes on the state’s own authority to oversee its energy future,” Christie said. http://politi.co/1Kze8Ul

TELECOM FIRMS URGE ‘LIGHT-TOUCH’ REGULATION—POLITICO New York’s Miranda Neubauer: Several telecommunications companies and organizations, most prominently Verizon, filed documents on Friday afternoon with the Public Service Commission urging New York regulators to maintain a "light-touch" regulatory approach toward telecommunications or remove what they see as additional restrictive measures. The documents were filed in response to the PSC's "Study on the State of Telecommunications," which examines the impact of shifts in communication technology, including voice, video and broadband. The PSC also held several hearings around the state to gather feedback on the study. http://politi.co/1R6UBQE

SAVE FITZPATRICK, BUT NOT AT ANY COST—Syracuse Post-Standard’s editorial board: “While it's clear that FitzPatrick's closing would be a blow to Central New York in general and Oswego County in particular, it's not at all clear what Entergy wants the state to do about it. If it's a bailout the company wants, the answer should be no at this time. Cuomo said as much last week: "I strongly caution Entergy not to use the threat of job losses as a means of prodding economic relief to help their bottom line.'' We urge him to hold firm on that. That doesn't mean the governor should do nothing. The administration is talking to Entergy, which also owns the Indian Point nuclear plant near New York City. Cuomo wants Indian Point to close, adding more complexity to an already complex situation.” http://bit.ly/1OZYXK9

AROUND NEW YORK:

--The federal Department of Health and Human Services will provide $326 million in low income heating assistance to New York this winter. http://politi.co/1H3m3t1

--New York City has its first net zero public school. http://bit.ly/1O1hvev

--The state assembly will hold another hearing on the climate today in Albany. http://politi.co/1N191ma

--The switchyard at the Robert Moses hydroelectric dam will soon be one of the most advanced in the nation, says NYPA. bit.ly/1Nq8ZCw

--FEMA wrongly paid $250M to Sandy victims, NJ Advance Media reports. http://bit.ly/1Kzesm9

** A Message from Nuclear Matters: Providing more than 61 percent of New York’s carbon-free electricity, nuclear energy plants play a vital role in achieving our clean-energy and carbon-reduction goals. New York’s nuclear energy fleet supports about 18,000 jobs and provides $2.5 billion to the state’s GDP. Learn more at NuclearMatters.com. **

IT’S MONDAY: The perfect time to tell your local energy reporter about your burning issue. Please let us know if you have stories, ideas, complaints or even if you're just lonely. We're always here at dgiambusso@politico.com and swaldman@politico.com. And if you like this letter, please tell a friend and/or loved one. Here’s a handy sign-up link: politi.co/1UqoEoB

VW: WHAT THE HELL AND WHY— The New York Times: “A widening internal investigation at Volkswagen is focusing not only on who was responsible for installing illegal software designed to fool emissions testers, but also on which managers may have learned of the deception and failed to take appropriate action, a person briefed on the inquiry said. The failure of people inside the carmaker to sound warnings about illegal engine software has emerged as a crucial element of the scandal, in which 11 million cars were programmed to produce far fewer emissions during laboratory testing than they did under normal driving conditions. The number of Volkswagen executives or engineers suspended in connection with the emissions cheating has continued to grow and could soon reach about 10, said the person, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because the inquiry is supposed to be confidential. Some of the employees were directly involved in programming cars to cheat on emissions tests, but others may share blame because they found out about it and did not pass the information up the chain of command.” http://nyti.ms/1N1ByYX

COMMODITIES DEMAND DROP CUTS INTO ENERGY INDUSTRY—The New York Times’ Nelson Schwartz and Julie Creswell: “A thousand miles south of this gritty steel town on the Mississippi River, West Texas oil rigs have shuddered to a halt. Seven hundred miles north, mines in the Iron Range of Minnesota have been stilled. The drilling rigs, with their deep underground pipes, once consumed much of the steel that Granite City’s blast furnaces could produce, while the mines supplied the raw material. So now, more than 2,000 workers at the mammoth United States Steel plant not far from St. Louis are waiting to see if they will be next. This month, the company warned them it might be forced to idle the plant. Layoffs could begin around Christmas. Granite City may be waiting, but a chill in economic activity is already evident across a broad swath of the nation’s heartland stretching from the Gulf of Mexico to the Canadian border, as prices of commodities sink. Whether it is roustabouts and other oil field workers in Texas and North Dakota, miners in Minnesota, farmers in Iowa, or heavy equipment makers and sellers in Illinois, the reason for the fear is the same: a sudden plunge in demand for commodities.” http://nyti.ms/1kFCuXO

US SHALE RUNNING OUT OF OPTIONS—OilPrice.com’s James Stafford: “Much has been made about the impressive gains in efficiency and productivity in the shale patch, as new drilling techniques squeeze ever more oil and gas out of new wells. But the limits to such an approach are becoming increasingly visible. The U.S. shale revolution is running out of steam. The collapse of oil prices has forced drillers to become more efficient, adding more wells per well pad, drilling longer laterals, adding more sand per frac job, etc. That allowed companies to continue to post gains in output despite using fewer and fewer rigs.” http://read.bi/206gHc8

CASH CRUNCH FOR BIG OIL — The Wall Street Journal: “The world’s biggest oil companies are struggling to generate enough cash to cover their spending and dividends, despite efforts to slash billions of dollars from their budgets in the face of tumbling oil prices. Spending on new projects, share buybacks and dividends at four of the biggest oil companies known as the supermajors— Royal Dutch Shell PLC, BP PLC, Exxon MobilCorp. and Chevron Corp.—outstripped cash flow by more than a combined $20 billion in the first half of 2015, according to a Wall Street Journal analysis.” http://on.wsj.com/1Lw1vgT

OIL DOWNTURN NOW REACHING PIPELINES—Houston Chronicle’s Robert Grattan: “The oil price downturn has put an end to the pipeline construction boom spurred in recent years by shale production, and midstream companies are struggling to keep products flowing through their systems. As the flood of oil flowing from new shale wells across the U.S. slows, so too has the need for pipelines to carry it. Companies that were once laying and welding pipe as fast as possible are now shelving plans for new pipelines and competing to fill the capacity due to come online soon. "Instead of pipelines full and producers competing for space, you have pipelines empty and competing for producers," said John Auers, an analyst at Dallas consulting firm Turner Mason & Co. For the midstream industry - so-called because it runs the storage and transportation infrastructure linking upstream oil and gas producers with downstream refiners and retail marketers - the slack in their pipes presents a major challenge.” http://bit.ly/1MduvqP

FOSSIL FUEL INDUSTRY COULD BE BLINDSIDED BY FALLING DEMAND—National Observer’s Fram Dinshaw: “Global fossil fuel demand could be slashed by 2040 due to slowing population and economic growth coupled with a rapid expansion of renewable energy, warns an Oct. 22 Carbon Tracker Initiative report. Typical industry scenarios see coal, oil and gas use growing by 30 – 50 per cent and still making up 75 per cent of the global energy supply mix in 2040, but none take into account the huge potential for reducing fossil fuel demand as ever-more countries seek to ‘decarbonize’ their economies, according to a new Carbon Tracker Initiative report titled Lost in transition: How the energy sector is missing potential demand destruction.” http://bit.ly/1R6X9hJ

NUCLEAR PLANTS SPENDING DECOMMISSIONING FUNDS EARLY — The Associated Press: “With a federal promise to take highly radioactive spent fuel from nuclear plants still unfulfilled, closed reactors are dipping into funds set aside for their eventual dismantling to build waste storage on-site, raising questions about whether there will be enough money when the time comes. It violates Nuclear Regulatory Commission rules for the plants to take money from their decommissioning trust funds to pay for building the concrete pads and rows of concrete and steel casks where waste is stored after it is cooled in special storage pools. But the NRC is granting exemptions from those rules every time it is asked.” http://wapo.st/1N1sYJE

HISTORY OF TROUBLE AT NUKE DUMP — The Associated Press: “The operator of a closed radioactive waste dump that caught fire in southern Nevada had trouble over the years with leaky shipments and oversight so lax that employees took contaminated tools and building materials home, according to state and federal records. The firm, now called US Ecology Inc., had its license suspended for mishandling shipments in the 1970s — about the same time that state officials say the material that exploded and burned last weekend was accepted and buried. Nevada now has ownership and oversight of the property, which opened in 1962 near Beatty as the nation's first federally licensed low-level radioactive waste dump and closed in 1992. State officials said this week they didn't immediately know what blew up.” http://nyti.ms/1N1tqYi

FINDING FUSION — The New York TImes: “A group of start-ups is promising a new and virtually unlimited source of power, one that produces none of the gases scientists say contribute to global warming. The only problem? A way to harness the energy source, nuclear fusion — the reaction that gives birth to sunlight — still needs to be invented. Such an achievement has long evaded government scientists and university researchers, despite decades of work and billions of dollars in research. But backed by hundreds of millions in venture capital and some of the wealthiest people in the technology industry, a handful of young companies say they can succeed where government has fallen short.” http://nyti.ms/1LvZiBY

FUTURES:

--Oil gains slightly on possible good news in Europe.

“On the New York Mercantile Exchange, light, sweet crude futures for delivery in December traded at $45.57 a barrel at 0334 GMT, up $0.19 in the Globex electronic session. December Brent crude on London’s ICE Futures exchange rose $0.27 to $48.35 a barrel.” http://on.wsj.com/1N1syCX

** A Message from Nuclear Matters: Some of America’s existing nuclear energy plants face early closure due to current economic and policy conditions. Providing more than 62% of America’s carbon-free electricity, existing, state-of-the-art nuclear energy plants play a vital role in achieving our clean-energy and carbon-reduction goals.

In New York, nuclear energy plants provide 31 percent of the state’s electricity and 61 percent of our carbon-free electricity. The existing nuclear energy plants in New York also support about 18,000 jobs and provide $2.5 billion to the state’s GDP.

If we want to keep New York working, we need policies that will keep New York’s state-of-the-art nuclear energy plants working for all of us. Join us atNuclearMatters.com. **

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