POLITICO New York Energy, presented by Upstate Energy Jobs: Methane targeted — Onondoga cleanup — PSC meets

By David Giambusso and Marie J. French | 05/18/2017 10:00 AM EDT

METHANE TARGETED — POLITICO New York's Marie J. French: The Cuomo administration has released a plan to curb methane emissions after Gov. Andrew Cuomo's proposal to reduce food waste in landfills — one driver of such emissions — failed to make it into this year's budget. The plan, which includes actions by several state agencies, addresses a greenhouse gas that scientists have raised alarms about because of its short-term impact on the climate. A group of New York scientists and anti-fracking advocates have criticized Cuomo's policy on natural gas because of its impact on methane emissions. The "Methane Reduction Plan" focuses on methane emissions from the gas industry, agricultural sector and landfills. Read the plan here.

— By the numbers: Methane accounts for 9 percent of greenhouse gas emissions in New York... Natural gas leakage accounts for 11 percent of methane emissions... Landfills for 58 percent... Agriculture for 22 percent, according to the state.

— Environmental Advocates of New York's Conor Bambrick said in a statement this shows Cuomo is stepping up as the EPA backs off on climate issues, flagging the focus on methane leakage regulations. "The most significant part of the Governor's plan, however, may be the addition of a mandatory climate 'test' to the State Environmental Quality Review Act (SEQRA)," he added. "This means that proposals like the Tar Sands heating facility at the Port of Albany, and gas and oil pipelines, will be considered based on how climate change impacts the project and how the project exacerbates climate change. This is huge."

— The Business Council of New York State's Darren Suarez declined to comment on the "climate test" because he said the methane plan does not appear to include one. The plan says the DEC will: "Update and improve State Environmental Quality Review Act guidance for assessing greenhouse gas emissions including methane. This guidance will also address projected effects of climate change on infrastructure, including oil and gas infrastructure."

— Asked for clarification, the DEC said the agency would be updating its 2009 SEQRA policy that already addresses greenhouse gas emissions; that update will include a focus on methane emissions. The methane plan does not include a specific climate test for oil and gas infrastructure, according to the agency.

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ONONDOGA CLEAN UP PLAN — Syracuse Post-Standard's Glenn Coin: "Twenty projects have been proposed to help repair the damage caused by decades of industrial pollution in Onondaga Lake." Read more here.

AROUND NEW YORK:

— Orange Residents Against Pilgrim Pipelines is not letting up in its fight to stop the project, even though backers have yet to take the first step in the environmental review process.

— Hunters in New York harvested an estimated 213,061 deer during the 2016-17 hunting seasons.

— For the first time in more than two decades, National Grid's residential electric rates in upstate New York dipped just below the national average in 2016.

— Falling load and natural gas price levels weakened New York Independent System Operator prices in April, but this April's prices were still higher than in 2016.

— Albany, Saratoga counties are planning a joint study on an organic waste facility.

— The DEC and National Weather Service issued an air quality advisory for New York City yesterday.

— The DEC has been working to catch and help a black bear with what appears to be a jug stuck on its head spotted in upstate New York.

— A Con Ed manager from Long Island has been charged in federal court in Manhattan with skimming $3.8 million from customer payments to the utility.

— The Democratic-led Assembly backed legislation that would apply electronic cigarettes to the Clean Indoor Air Act.

— ICYMI: The Suffolk County fire academy in Yaphank, used for training volunteer firefighters, is now on the state's Superfund list.

— The Department of Environmental Conservation advised caution to residents as the ban on burning brush has ended.

— The University of Michigan is establishing a research institute focused on sustainable management of the Great Lakes. Cornell is a partner.

— The natural lawn is making a comeback on Long Island because of concerns about chemicals ending up in the Sound.

— Save the Sound is starting a groundbreaking water testing program that will dramatically increase available data on the health of Long Island Sound.

— With the Long Island Ducks hosting the York Revolution, two birds — one large and black, the other small and gray — started "going at it."

— ICYMI: The Empire Center's Ken Girardin says proposed SEQR changes are self serving.

— ICYMI: NYISO's Brad Jones writes for Morning Consult about New York as the best hope of finding a solution to tensions between wholesale markets and state subsidies.

** A message from Upstate Energy Jobs: Thanks to New York's nuclear energy and innovative policies like the Clean Energy Standard, the future is bright for New York. Together they work to keep our air clean, our economy thriving, and our community members employed. Learn more at upstateenergyjobs.com. **

HARNESSING ELECTRIC VEHICLES — UtilityDive's Herman Trabish: "That utilities have a lot to gain from the electric vehicle transition is common knowledge. But if they don't act, they could also have a lot to lose." Read more here.

CALIFORNIA EYES RETAIL ENERGY — Greentech Media's Jeff St. John: "Back in March, GTM broke the news that California regulators are considering some big changes to the state's energy landscape, including the possibility of returning to some form of competitive retail choice for electricity — as long as it doesn't repeat the mistakes that led to the Enron-engineered energy crisis in 2001. This week, the California Public Utilities Commission and California Energy Commission will be holding their first hearing to talk through this contentious but timely issue." Read more here.

RAMP WADDLE BATTLE — New York Times' Liam Stack: "Political turmoil rocked the nation's capital again on Tuesday evening as politicians from both parties responded to President Trump's — you know what, never mind. This is a story about ducks." Read more here.

OHIO NIXES NUKE SUBSIDY — The Plain Dealer's John Funk: "The chairman of the Ohio House Public Utilities Committee has suspended further hearings — and a vote — on a proposed bill allowing FirstEnergy to create a special customer charge to subsidize its nuclear power plant fleet." Read more here.

SHOULD AMAZON STEP IN? — Greentech Media's Julian Spector: "A coalition of scientists, clean energy advocates, business leaders and Ohio political leaders is asking Amazon to expand its renewable energy procurement policy to include nuclear power, in the hopes of saving two plants in Ohio that might go out of business." Read more here.

HORSEPOWER RISES — Bloomberg's Kyle Stock and David Ingold: "Sometime in the next couple of months, the Dodge Challenger SRT Demon and its 808 horsepower will show up in dealership windows like some kind of tiny, red, tire-melting factory. Yes, 808 horsepower. There's no typo. Teenage boys will lose their minds. Some older ones, too. But beyond the Vin Diesel fan club, it's actually not such a big deal anymore. Last year, U.S. drivers on the hunt for more than 600 horsepower had 18 models to choose from..." Read more here.

TOP VW EXEC UNDER INVESTIGATION — New York Times' Jack Ewing: "Volkswagen's emissions scandal reached deep into the company's boardroom on Wednesday after German prosecutors said they were investigating Matthias Müller, the carmaker's chief executive, on suspicion of market manipulation." Read more here.

CREATIONIST'S GRAND CANYON LAWSUIT — Atlantic's Sarah Zhang: "'How did the Grand Canyon form?' is a question so commonly pondered that YouTube is rife with explanations. Go down into the long tail of Grand Canyon videos, and you'll eventually find at a two-part, 35-minute lecture by Andrew Snelling. ... Snelling believes that the Grand Canyon formed after Noah's flood—and he now claims the U.S. government is blocking his research in the canyon because of his religious views." Read more here.

TRASH DISK MYSTERY — Virginian-Pilot's Jeff Hampton: "Jeff Kelly motored down the four-wheel-drive beach north of Corolla and, with the help of his children, counted not seashells but 26 tabletop-sized plastic disks scattered along the surf line. A closer look revealed what they were: compressed saucers of trash... The disks are consistent with those made on ships to compress plastic waste for easy storage, said Ted Brown, a spokesman for the Navy's Fleet Forces Command." Read more here.

MORE TRASH PROBLEMS — Associated Press' Nick Perry: "When researchers traveled to a tiny, uninhabited island in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, they were astonished to find an estimated 38 million pieces of trash washed up on the beaches." Read more here.

SCOTTISH WIND WHIFF — Bloomberg's Jess Shankleman: "Scotland was so bullish about becoming Europe's wind energy hub its politicians fell out with a brash real-estate developer and reality TV star called Donald Trump. Five years on, Trump's ambitions have taken him to the White House. But instead of the 950 offshore turbines Scotland envisioned by the end of 2017, it has only 63 because of legal battles, geographical challenges and caps on government aid." Read more here.

ICYMI: ANOTHER DYING REEF — Washington Post's Chelsea Harvey: "As concerns grow over the condition of Australia's Great Barrier Reef, which has endured widespread coral bleaching in the past several years, scientists are finding similar damage on reefs all over the world, including in the Pacific Ocean and the Caribbean Sea." Read more here.

FUTURES

— Oil prices edged higher as stockpiles dropped, The Wall Street Journal reports.

** A message from Upstate Energy Jobs: New York's dedication to critical energy sources such as nuclear energy provides 25,000 New Yorkers with employment and contributes $3 billion to our state's economy. It also puts our state at the center of the movement for carbon-free power. Currently, our states' nuclear energy facilities keep more than 16 million tons of carbon-dioxide out of our air, and in 12 years the total will reach 180 million. Groundbreaking policies like the Clean Energy Standard (CES) are dedicated to utilizing this incredible energy source to allow us to reach the State Energy Plan goal of 40 percent carbon-free energy generation by 2030, while also providing quality jobs in our state - for less than $2 a month. This benefits all New Yorkers. Supporting policies like the CES means building a bright future for New York State's economy, energy demands, environment, and communities. Learn more at upstateenergyjobs.com. **

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