By Marie J. French and David Giambusso | 10/12/2017 10:00 AM EDT
With help from Maya Parthasarathy
RENEWABLES SITING FIXES — POLITICO New York's Marie J. French: A year-long effort to build consensus between environmental groups and renewable energy developers has resulted in several recommendations to make it easier to build new, utility-scale solar and wind projects. The Nature Conservancy and the Alliance for Clean Energy New York released a report , developed by the Renewables on the Ground Roundtable, on Wednesday at the Alliance's reception for its annual fall conference at the new Albany convention center. The report focuses on policy changes and strategies to spur renewable development in support of Gov. Andrew Cuomo's goal to generate 50 percent of electricity in the state from renewables by 2030. The difficulty in siting large-scale renewable projects is one challenge in meeting that goal. Developers of large-scale renewables are concerned that local opposition and the state's siting process may make it difficult to build projects in New York, which could pose difficulties in achieving the governor's goal. Eric Miller, director of business development at Invenergy, said the major obstacle to projects right now is the state's siting process, known as Article 10. Invenergy currently has four large-scale wind projects going through the Article 10 process. Miller said he has concerns about the conditions in place for one of the projects furthest along in the process, EverPower's Cassadaga Wind in Chautauqua County. "I'm not sure any projects can be built under those conditions," Miller said. "There is pretty good potential for wind energy in this state that has been overlooked." The report's main recommendations require action by state agencies and possible changes to the Article 10 process. Read more here.
MORE PFOA/PFOS TESTING — Newsday's Rachelle Blidner: "The Suffolk County Department of Health Services is seeking to test private wells on more than 90 properties near the East Hampton Airport in Wainscott after elevated levels of chemicals were detected in a nearby private water supply, officials said Wednesday. Of 25 private wells tested within a square mile of the airport since late August, one had perfluorinated compounds above the federal health advisory level of 0.07 parts per billion, health officials said ... Town officials said they are providing free bottled water to area residents as a precaution. Health officials said they began testing wells after the state Department of Environmental Conservation conducted a survey in which the East Hampton Airport indicated it had used or stored products that may have contained perfluorooctanoic acid and/or perfluorooctanesulfonic acid, known respectively as PFOA and PFOS." Read more here.
STRANDED NUKE WASTE — Journal News' Tom Zambito: "For 15 years, the plan (to send nuclear waste to Yucca Mountain) went nowhere as efforts to designate an underground repository for the nation's nuclear waste foundered amid political opposition. But in recent months, those routes have been debated anew as momentum builds in Congress for a way to rid the nation's nuclear power plants of 76,000 metric tons of used fuel — enough spent fuel assemblies to cover a football field eight yards high if stacked end to end and side by side. Among the report's more controversial proposals is a plan to move spent fuel out of Indian Point in Buchanan — and 16 other power plants without direct access to railroads — by barge, down the Hudson River... More than a decade later, the debate has taken on greater urgency. As more and more nuclear power plants either shut down or announce plans to close — victims of the cheap price of abundant natural gas — communities are anxious to get rid of spent fuel so they can find new uses for valuable property on waterfront locales that include the Pacific Coast, the Connecticut River and the Hudson River... Among them is Buchanan Mayor Theresa Knickerbocker, who holds out little hope that the political hurdles to shipping nuclear waste out of Indian Point can be overcome. 'Everyone is going to push back,' Knickerbocker said. 'You're going to get a lot of political pushback. It's known as NIMBY (Not In My Backyard). If they haven't resolved this in 30 years, you have to move on.'" Read more here.
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AROUND NEW YORK:
— PSEG Long Island will pay a Shelter Island Heights property owners group a $1.02 million "access fee" to help complete a long-delayed undersea power cable to the East End island from Greenport.
— With some memories of the destruction caused by Hurricane Sandy five years ago beginning to fade, proponents of a set of offshore barriers to protect the New York metropolitan area from storm surge are re-sounding their alarm.
— ICYMI: Cuomo threatened to sue the federal government if meetings at an interstate fisheries commission next month do not result in an "equitable" redistribution of the coast-wide quota for fluke.
— The EPA says work on radioactive hotspots in Niagara County has merely been temporarily suspended — not ceased completely — until there is enough funding to finish the job.
— A business owner was sentenced after he was found guilty last year of helping dump tons of contaminated debris in a state-protected wetland.
— NYPA wants grid modernization for Puerto Rico.
— A class action lawsuit has been filed on behalf of residents of Yaphank over PFOA and PFOS water contamination.
— The Nuclear Regulatory Commission has granted Entergy's request to defer remaining seismic and flooding evaluations and changes at its Indian Point nuclear power plant until after the facility permanently closes in 2021.
— The town of North Elba will appeal the decision of a Franklin County judge that the state's plan to build a 34-mile rail trail from Lake Placid to Tupper Lake was "arbitrary and capricious."
— The Oswego County Health Department said Wednesday that a horse in the town of West Monroe contracted Eastern equine encephalitis, a mosquito-borne virus.
— Cheektowaga plans to purchase 10 electric vehicles and install charging stations at Town Hall if it wins a $250,000 clean energy grant.
— The former Ontario water superintendent was arraigned Wednesday on numerous felony counts for allegedly covering up a failure to fix water leaks in the Wayne County town, according to authorities.
PIPELINE RESERVATION CONTROVERSY — Bloomberg's Ryan Collins: "Power companies' approach to booking space on U.S. natural gas pipelines is becoming the latest flash point in the debate over whether to build more of the links in the historically constrained Northeast. The Environmental Defense fund said in a report Wednesday that New England utility owners Eversource Energy and Avangrid Inc. have repeatedly reserved pipeline capacity for large gas deliveries, only to cancel their orders for the power-plant fuel at the last minute. It's a move that, the group said, amplified the run-up in electricity prices during cold snaps and cost customers $3.6 billion over three years." Read more here.
— From UtilityDiver's Gavin Bade: "It does not appear either company broke any contract laws or market rules with their behavior, researchers said. But if the report's findings are accurate, industry lawyers say they could amount to violations of federal law — and become one of the biggest price manipulation scandals since the California energy crisis." Read more here.
DAKOTA ACCESS KEEPS RUNNING — Associated Press' Blake Nicholson: "A federal judge ruled Wednesday that the Dakota Access oil pipeline can continue operating while a study is completed to assess its environmental impact on an American Indian tribe." Read more here.
WINDS DRIVE CALIFORNIA FIRES — The New York Times' Henry Fountain: "Powerful, hot and dry winds like those that have fanned the deadly wildfires now raging in California are a common occurrence in the state, a result of regional atmospheric patterns that develop in the fall. The impact of climate change on the winds is uncertain, although some scientists think that global warming may at least be making the winds drier." Read more here.
BLOOMBERG BOOSTS ANTI-COAL CAMPAIGN — Bloomberg's Jennifer A. Dlouhy: "The Sierra Club and other environmental groups are expanding a campaign to retire U.S. coal power plants with a $64 million contribution from former New York Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg, as the the environmental group aims to blunt efforts by the Trump administration to rescue coal." Read more here.
WATER CUTS ANTARCTIC ICE SHELF — The Washington Post's Chris Mooney: "A new scientific study published Tuesday has found that warm ocean water is carving an enormous channel into the underside of one of the key floating ice shelves of West Antarctica, the most vulnerable sector of the enormous ice continent." Read more here.
SCIENTIFIC INTEGRITY PROBED — The Washington Post's Juliet Eilperin: "The Government Accountability Office will look into whether the Trump administration is safeguarding scientific integrity." Read more here.
FIRST SOLAR SUPPORTS PROTECTIONS — GreenTech Media's Julia Pyper: "First Solar, the largest U.S.-based solar panel manufacturer, has been relatively quiet about the controversial Section 201 trade case brought by U.S.-based crystalline silicon PV manufacturers Suniva and SolarWorld Americas. That is, until now." Read more here.
GERMANY'S CLIMATE RISK — Climate Change News' Sören Amelang: "Germany's environment ministry fears high emissions from coal-fired power plants and transport will make the country miss its 2020 climate targets by a wider margin than previously anticipated." Read more here.
LENDER STOPS SHALE, OIL SANDS PROJECTS — The Wall Street Journal's Noemie Bisserbe and Sarah Kent: "French lender BNP Paribas said Wednesday it will no longer finance shale and oil sands projects, in one of the clearest signs yet the banking industry is re-evaluating its relationship with the oil sector amid mounting pressure from investors and top financial institutions." Read more here.
OPEC PRODUCTION RISES — The Wall Street Journal's Christopher Alessi: "OPEC crude-oil production jumped last month by nearly 90,000 barrels a day, complicating the cartel's efforts to limit output, curb the global supply glut and raise oil prices." Read more here.
— Oil prices rose for a third straight day as forecasts of higher demand and tensions in the Middle East outweighed rising OPEC output, The Wall Street Journal reports.
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