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POLITICO New York Energy, presented by Nuclear Matters: NY could lose pipeline authority; National Grid cleanup

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.

DEC OFFICIAL: NY COULD LOSE SOME PIPELINE AUTHORITY — POLITICO New York’s Scott Waldman: New York State could lose its authority to oversee pipelines if it improperly withholds approvals, a senior Department of Environmental Conservation official said this week. The agency has been sitting on a growing pile of pipeline applications. Oversight of pipelines is generally a federal issue, but the state has to sign off on water certifications for the path of a pipeline when it crosses stream beds and wetlands. This sign-off was once a minor step in the extensive pipeline approval process, but the Cuomo administration has delayed making a final decision on multiple pipelines, with no end in sight. But withholding certifications could cost the state some of its oversight ability, said Jared Snyder, assistant DEC commissioner for air, climate and energy.

NATIONAL GRID CLAIMS CLEANUP SUCCESS — Newsday’s Mark Harrington: “National Grid is declaring success in a decade-long effort to clean up a massive wastewater plume in downtown Bay Shore, but some residents aren't buying it. Representatives from the company and the state Department of Environmental Conservation will be at a public meeting at Bay Shore High School at 7 p.m. Wednesday to detail the developments. In a report released earlier this month, the DEC noted, 'The cleanup of this site is not yet complete, but contaminant levels have decreased sharply throughout the area and this trend is expected to continue.'”

** 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 **


--Hip, but toxic: Residents of Williamsburg and Greenpoint are known for skinny jeans and ironic t-shirts, but a much older legacy of industrial pollution in the area continues to plague denizens today. Neighbors Allied for Good Growth, or NAG, teamed up with Pratt to produce this interactive map showing levels of ground and air pollution in North Brooklyn.

--GE will not help workers at its soon-to-close Fort Edward plant find jobs at its Florida facility.

--Kurt Vonnegut wrote short stories to escape his “nightmare” job at GE in Schenectady.

--In a victory for General Electric, the U.S. House of Representatives voted to reauthorize the U.S. Export-Import Bank, which provides loan guarantees to companies that do business with GE and other large exporters.

--The state Department of Public Service will now post competitive bids related to energy generation on its website under a new bill signed into law this week by Gov. Andrew Cuomo.

--Pataki: Questioning science is inappropriate: During the GOP “undercard” debate Wednesday evening, former Gov. George Pataki chided his fellow Republican candidates for doubting the reality of climate change. “Too often we question science that everyone accepts. It’s not appropriate to think that human activity, putting carbon dioxide into the atmosphere doesn’t make the climate warmer,” he said.

--Teachers outside of Watertown have built a house using 1,300 recycled tires and about 10,000 repurposed wine and liquor bottles.

GOOD THURSDAY MORNING: 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:

DROUGHT KILLING SALMON — The Associated Press: “Another deadly summer of drought has heightened fears of extinction in the wild for an iconic California salmon, federal officials said Wednesday. Officials with the National Marine Fisheries Service said preliminary counts indicate that hot, shallow waters caused by the drought killed most of this year’s juvenile winter-run Chinook before they made it out to the Pacific Ocean. It 'doesn’t look very good,' said Garwin Yip, a federal fisheries spokesman. If a final count this winter confirms the bad news, it would mean a second straight summer in which 5 percent or less of the young fish survived California’s drought.”

PEABODY LOOKING TO NOT PAY PENSIONS — ProPublica: “John R. Leach worked for Peabody Energy Corp. in western Kentucky for 23 years. When he retired, he and his wife Rhonda relied on his pension and health benefits not only for themselves but to care for two severely disabled adult children. So when Peabody notified them in 2007 that their benefits were now the responsibility of a spinoff called Patriot Coal, they had a worrisome premonition ... The family’s worries were justified. When Patriot filed for bankruptcy two years ago, retiree benefits for thousands of mining families were put at risk. While Peabody eventually agreed to pay for some of those costs, Patriot is now back in financial trouble. This time around, Peabody is quietly seeking to get out of paying for any of its remaining agreed-upon obligations to its retirees ... Peabody’s maneuver is perhaps the starkest example yet of how corporate engineering by coal companies under increasing economic duress is imperiling whatever security workers and retirees still possess after their years of work in frequently dangerous conditions.”

IN THEIR OWN WORDS: The national League of Conservation Voters has compiled a dossier of GOP presidential candidates’ positions on energy policy according to their own public statements. Spoiler: There’s a lot of letting the free market decide things.

OIL WITHDRAWAL SHRINKS RESERVES — Washington Post’s Stephen Mufson: “The sale of crude oil from the nation’s Strategic Petroleum Reserve amounts to little more than a rounding error in the federal budget deal struck Tuesday, but some critics lament that the sales will draw down a large portion of the emergency reserve. Moreover, Congress and the Obama administration are planning to take another dip into the reserve: The compromise to fund the Highway Trust Fund also relies on sales of crude oil from the SPR. Taken together, the measures could ultimately liquidate more than 20 percent of the nation’s petroleum reserves. ‘Using the SPR like an ATM is not a good idea,’ said Jason Bordoff, director of the Center on Global Energy Policy at Columbia University, who formerly was President Obama’s National Security Council adviser on energy and climate.”

NATURAL GAS SHIFTING RESHAPING HOW WE GET OUR POWER — The Washington Post’s Chris Mooney: “Oil isn’t the only fossil fuel that is selling at quite cheap levels at the moment, at least in the United States. This week, natural gas prices plunged briefly below $2 per million Btu (British thermal units), lower than they have been since early 2012. It’s part of a long term price drop that is closely tied to the fracking and shale gas boom, but also more immediately to high levels of natural gas storage and warm weather. Meanwhile, Duke Energy, the nation’s single largest utility company by market capitalization, purchased Piedmont Natural Gas for $ 4.9 billion, paying a premium for the natural gas distributor.”

FORMER DUKE ENERGY CEO: CLEAN POWER PLAN ‘IMPORTANT’ — SNL Energy’s Mark Hand: “The U.S. EPA's Clean Power Plan is an ‘imperfect’ but ‘important step in the right direction,’ former Duke Energy Corp. Chairman and CEO Jim Rogers said Oct. 26 in a talk at Columbia University's Center on Global Energy Policy in New York City. When President Barack Obama travels to Paris later this year for the United Nations' climate change conference, he will be able to tell other nations that the U.S. is heading in the right direction on cutting carbon emissions, said Rogers, who recently joined the Center on Global Energy Policy as a nonresident fellow. Rogers was not shy about highlighting what he views as the imperfections of the plan. Due to technology impediments, the Clean Power Plan makes the building of new coal-fired power plants almost impossible, Rogers contended. The plan also has a bias against new nuclear power plants and puts a cap on natural gas-fired power plants in some parts of the U.S., he said. Under the plan, the only energy resource option available to use in some regions will be renewable energy, a scenario that could threaten the provision of reliable and affordable power, he said.”

NUCLEAR PLANTS NEED MORE EARTHQUAKE ANALYSIS — Reuters: “Nuclear power plants in the United States are safe to continue operating but need to conduct an in-depth analysis where appropriate, as far as earthquake hazards are concerned, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) said on Tuesday. ‘Our substantial reviews have shown that fewer reactors than we first thought actually need the in-depth analysis,’ NRC said in a statement after completing its review of updated earthquake hazard information from all U.S. nuclear power plants. The outcome means both the NRC and industry can better focus their seismic expertise to work on plants most in need of additional analysis, NRC said.”

OIL SANDS HALT STYMIES CANADA — Bloomberg: “A global crude price slump that’s crimping Canada’s economy is poised to continue having a damping effect for years to come as more oil-sands projects are shelved. Royal Dutch Shell Plc’s decision to put on ice its Carmon Creek drilling project, announced Tuesday, lengthens the list of oil-sands developments that companies have scrapped or deferred in the market downturn to 18, according to ARC Financial Corp. The slowdown is part of a worldwide reduction in spending by energy producers trying to withstand a price rout that has dragged on for 16 months. The pullback in northern Alberta ends a period of rampant activity in the oil sands that started around 2010 and brings the sector’s expansion back to the more moderate levels of a decade ago, according to ATB Financial. Given that much of the construction for new projects was scheduled for the coming years, the decreased work is expected to crimp Canada’s gross domestic product growth past 2020.”


--Oil has a good day: The Wall Street Journal reports that oil boosted on news that the U.S. would permit exports to Mexico.

“Crude oil for December delivery jumped $2.74, or 6.3%, to $45.94 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange, the largest one-day dollar and percentage gains since Aug. 31.

Brent, the global benchmark, rose $2.24, or 4.8%, to $49.05 a barrel on ICE Futures Europe.”

--Natural gas retreats: Mild weather is making for weak demand the Journal reports.

“Prices for the front-month November contract settled down 5.9 cents, or 2.8%, at $2.033 a million British thermal units on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The November contract expired at settlement. The more-actively traded December contract fell 6.3 cents, or 2.7%, to $2.298/mmBtu.”

** 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 **

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