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POLITICO New York Energy, presented by Nuclear Matters: Politics on gas pipeline delay; crumbling oil train infrastructure

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.

SENATOR SAYS ‘POLITICS’ BEHIND STATE DELAY ON GAS PROJECT—POLITICO New York’s Scott Waldman: Tom O’Mara, chairman of the state Senate's environmental conservation committee, on Tuesday said that political considerations are behind the state's delay in deciding on a proposed gas propane storage facility in the Finger Lakes region. The state Department of Environmental Conservation has been reviewing the proposal for about seven years, with no clear indication about when a final decision will be made. In an interview with POLITICO New York, O’Mara, a Republican, said the DEC has had plenty of time to make a decision and called on the state to release its findings. Politics, he said, is playing a role in "these decision-making processes as it did in fracking,” he said. “And it gets drawn out and then the governor licks his finger and sticks it up in the wind and sees what way the political views are going and then the decision seems to be made.”

REPORT: OIL TRAIN INFRASTRUCTURE CRUMBLING—POLITICO New York’s Scott Waldman: Two days after an oil train derailed and spilled in Wisconsin, a national report by environmental groups has found that the rail infrastructure that has been used to support the growing oil train industry is crumbling and suffers from a lack of federal oversight. Groups of volunteers inspected 250 of the rail bridges in 15 states, including some in New York that have seen oil train traffic rise by 50-fold in just seven years, according to the report from Waterkeeper Alliance, Riverkeeper and Forest Ethics. On about half of those bridges, the report found areas of “significant concern” — including crumbling and missing concrete, erosion of pilings, exposed rebar, broken beams, loose or missing bolts and severe rusting and holes in structural steel.

** 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 **

ENERGY MARKETS LED TO FITZPATRICK CLOSING—Opinion by James Conca for Forbes: “The real reason for Fitzpatrick’s closing, like other recent nuclear plant closings, is the transient warped energy market structure of the unregulated merchant markets, especially in the north and east. In these competitive electricity markets, prices are lower than they should be because the rules and operations of the marketplace are not capable of capturing everything that should be included in the price. This is known as price formation and the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission is trying to fix this.”

--At a meeting with Wall Street analysts, Entergy officials made no mention of any potential to reverse the decision to shut down FitzPatrick in a year.

--If Entergy shuts down the FitzPatrick nuclear power plant as planned, the reactor could sit dormant for 50 years before its owner begins to tear it down and clean up the site.

FEDS RELEASE EIS FOR NORTHEAST UPGRADE — The Associated Press: “The environmental impacts of a large-scale transformation of the Northeast Corridor rail line would be greatly outweighed by an eventual decrease in energy usage and greenhouse gas production, as well as an increase in economic activity and mobility, a draft environmental report released Tuesday concluded. The report by the Federal Railroad Administration analyzed three alternatives for upgrading the corridor between now and 2040 that feature improvements ranging from the mundane but utilitarian (streamlined ticketing) to what might seem wishful thinking given current economic constraints (a rail tunnel connecting Long Island and the Connecticut coastline). The three alternatives were compared to a No Action alternative that would maintain existing service and infrastructure as ridership grows. To give an idea of the scope and expense involved, the No Action alternative would cost roughly $20 billion over the next 25 years, while the most ambitious alternative, which includes the underwater rail tunnel, would cost about $290 billion, federal rail officials said on a conference call Monday.”


--A Troy man pled guilty in the death of a Saratoga environmentalist.

--The Nassau supervisor wants to see proof that a pipeline company has access to private lands to map the route of the proposed Northeast Energy Direct pipeline.

--It’s tree-cutting season for National Grid as it prepares for the winter months.

--SUNY researchers are working on a smartphone battery that could last for days.

--A Saratoga Springs startup has received $1 million from the federal Department of Energy to develop fibers that can help in a nuclear accident.

--Rensselaer County residents want to pass a law that would restrict pipeline blasting.

GOOD WEDNESDAY MORNING: Let us know if you have tips, 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:

INDIA MOVES TO CENTER OF WORLD ENERGY—The Washington Post’s Chris Mooney: “The disconnect is huge: Even as countries of the world pledge to cut their greenhouse gas emissions going into the Paris climate talks, recent analyses suggest that overall emissions will still rise through the year 2030, and current national pledges will merely blunt the force of that trend. The key reason, highlighted in the new 2015 World Energy Outlook by the International Energy Agency, is that the coming decades will also see an incredible one-third growth in overall energy consumption through 2040, much of which will still be satisfied by coal and other fossil fuels. The agency highlights one particular country to underscore this trend – though there are many other candidates – India, home to 1.3 billion people, 240 million of whom lack electricity, most of them living in rural areas.”

SOLAR’S GROWTH STREAK—GTM Research: “Solar power is on an impressive growth streak in the U.S., having gone from 2 gigawatts of cumulative capacity at the end of 2010 to a likely 26 gigawatts at the end of 2015. More importantly, costs have fallen enough to make it clear that solar will play a meaningful role in the future of electricity in the U.S. For the solar industry, it is time to start thinking about the next order of magnitude. Solar generates approximately 1% of all electricity in the U.S. today, but there is a realistic path toward 10% over the next 10-15 years.”

PEABODY COAL SAYS IT ADMITS NO WRONGDOING—EnergyWire’s Daniel Cusick: “Peabody Energy Corp. describes its statement that it would more fully disclose the financial risks it faces from climate change as a penalty-free modification of its financial reporting process. "There is no other action associated with this settlement, no admission or denial of wrongdoing and no financial penalty," the company said of the culmination of a two-year investigation by the New York Attorney General's Office in which it was accused of violating state laws prohibiting "false and misleading conduct" in statements to the public and investors.”

FROM KEYSTONE TO COAL—POLITICO’s Michael Grunwald: “The big climate news last week was President Obama’s decision to reject the Keystone oil pipeline, so there wasn’t much attention paid to an electric utility’s decision to retire a 60-year-old coal plant in Alton, Illinois. Unlike Keystone, the Wood River Power Station isn’t a global symbol of global warming. Its owner is closing it voluntarily, for economic as well as environmental reasons. And coal plants get shut down all the time; Wood River was the 206th announced retirement in the U.S. in the last five years, representing about one third of the coal fleet’s capacity.”

IRAQ DELIVERING CRUDE TO U.S. — Bloomberg: “OPEC’s latest challenge to U.S. shale oil producers would be about two miles long, lined end to end, and weigh almost 3 million metric tons. It’s due to reach American ports this month. Iraq, the fastest-growing producer within the 12-nation group, loaded as many as 10 tankers in the past several weeks to deliver crude to U.S. ports in November, ship-tracking and charters compiled by Bloomberg show. Assuming they arrive as scheduled, the 19 million barrels being hauled would mark the biggest monthly influx from Iraq since June 2012, according to Energy Information Administration figures.”

BILL CLINTON VISITS PANAMA WIND FARM — The Associated Press: “Former U.S. President Bill Clinton is talking up the potential of renewable energy to shield developing countries from the effects of climate change. Clinton visited Central America's biggest wind farm Tuesday. The electricity project in western Panama is scheduled to open next year with the capacity to produce about 6 percent to 8 percent of Panama's energy needs.”


--Oil makes uneasy gains: Oil prices closed higher Tuesday but the gains were short-lived in early trading Wednesday morning, the Wall Street Journal reports.

“December crude oil settled up 34 cents, or 0.8%, to $44.21 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Brent, the global benchmark, gained 25 cents, or 0.5%, to $47.44 a barrel on ICE Futures Europe. Both snapped a four-session losing streak.”

--Natural gas picks up: The Journal reports that traders are hopeful for cooler temperatires any day now.

“Prices for the front-month December contract settled up two cents, or 0.8%, at $2.32 a million British thermal units on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Gas has posted gains in four of five sessions, though that one losing session was large enough to keep gains at just 3% during the span.”

** 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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