By Marie J. French | 10/11/2017 09:59 AM EDT
With help from Maya Parthasarathy
UNION TARGETS UTILITIES — POLITICO New York's Marie J. French: A labor union is targeting the state's two largest utilities as part of a dispute with a contractor that identifies and marks underground gas and electric lines before construction projects. Local 1101 of the Communications Workers of America represents 180 workers at the contractor, USIC, in New York City and Long Island and has been negotiating the first contract with the company since it was certified in December 2015. Union officials say the company has been stonewalling while USIC has accused union leaders of being "loud, aggressive and vulgar" during negotiations. A new digital ad campaign launched Wednesday asks people to sign a petition targeted at Con Edison and National Grid. "Watch out, New York: Con Ed and National Grid contract with USIC to keep us safe but their employees are overworked and underpaid," one Facebook ad reads over a smoking manhole cover. An image of a fiery explosion follows with the text, "USIC workers prevent utility explosions. So why don't they get fair pay and a reasonable schedule?" Read more here.
ONTARIO HEARING ANGER — POLITICO New York's Marie J. French: Republican lawmakers raised concerns about future flooding on Lake Ontario's shores during a hearing Tuesday focused on record-high water levels that caused millions of dollars in damage. Experts told lawmakers, local residents and others in the town of Mexico that the flooding was caused by unusually heavy rains across the region, not a new water management plan that went into effect at the beginning of the year. Local officials, residents and Gov. Andrew Cuomo have attacked the board that sets water outflows from Lake Ontario over the flooding. Lawmakers asked several questions about the decisions made to let water out of Lake Ontario through the Moses-Saunders Dam during the flooding and whether future flooding would increase because of Plan 2014, which was approved by the U.S. and Canadian governments and allows higher highs and lower lows to help restore wetlands. It is expected to cause more damage to shorelines than the previous plan. Read more here.
— Cuomo wants to know if lawmakers would like to come back to Albany — this time to allocate more money for flooding damage along Lake Ontario and the St. Lawrence River. Cuomo sent a letter Tuesday to members of the Legislature who represent areas affected by the record-high water levels, saying he'd support more money for a recovery program approved by the Legislature in the special session in late June. Cuomo said on Friday that there was agreement to add more money as part of the budget but on Tuesday said he'd heard applicants for funding did not want to wait that long. "I would support a special session of the legislature to return and appropriate an additional $35 million for this program to fund all eligible applicants in a time frame that recognizes the urgency of the situation," Cuomo wrote. "There are other pending issues that could also be addressed at a special session, including the financial hardship the State will face from potential federal cutbacks." Read more here.
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RISING RESCUES EXHAUST RANGERS — NCPR's Brian Mann: "The Adirondacks are booming with more hikers, more campers, more rock climbers and paddlers than ever before. But that popularity means a growing pace of emergencies and search and rescue operations for the 140 New York state forest rangers. Some rangers warn that the pace is spreading them too thin, causing exhaustion and burnout." Read more here.
AROUND NEW YORK:
— Williams Partners has started up its New York Bay Expansion to bring additional natural gas to National Grid customers in New York City.
— A black bear is on the loose in the Guilderland area.
— A sinkhole in a Watertown trailer park forced five families to evacuate and left two trailers dangling.
— DANC will hold meetings in Lowville, Watertown about Fort Drum development and wind turbines.
— Warren, Washington and Hamilton counties have more "structurally deficient" local bridges than the state average per county, according to a state report.
— Fall foliage colors in upstate New York are muted this year. Experts weigh in on why.
— University at Buffalo Librarian Fred Stoss will be mentoring others at Al Gore's climate change workshop.
— East End anglers urge Gov. Andrew Cuomo to sue the federal government over fishing limits.
EPA SAYS IT'LL WRITE A NEW CARBON RULE, BUT WHEN? — The New York Times' Lisa Friedman: "When Scott Pruitt, the administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency, signed a blueprint Tuesday to eliminate a major Obama-era climate change regulation, the text said the agency would at some point consider a new rule to ratchet down greenhouse gas emissions. But those adept at reading between the lines of dense federal documents say the subtext reads more like: 'Don't hold your breath.'" Read more here.
— Cuomo on repeal: ""There is no denial here in New York. While the Trump Administration takes a back a seat to the rest of the world, New York is on track to meet our ambitious target of achieving 50 percent of electricity from renewables by 2030, and we will continue to lead the fight to meet the standards set forth in both the Paris Accord and the Clean Power Plan."
POWER COMPANIES TO STICK WITH PLANS DESPITE EPA'S EMISSIONS REPEAL — The Wall Street Journal's Timothy Puko: "Some of the biggest U.S. power companies said they are pushing ahead with investments in renewable and gas-fired electricity and are including climate change as a part of their corporate strategy, regardless of the Trump administration's plans to roll back Obama-era environmental rules." Read more here.
WANTED IN CALIFORNIA: A HEALTHY MARKET FOR MICROGRIDS — Greentech Media's Justin Gerdes: "California pioneered state policies for deploying solar and energy storage. Now it's turning its attention to microgrids." Read more here.
WHAT'S AT RISK IF TRUMP PUSHES IRAN DEAL TO COLLAPSE — Bloomberg's Angelina Rascouet and Anthony Dipaola: "Iran, already struggling to attract investors to its energy industry, may find things tougher still as U.S. President Donald Trump tries to undermine the nuclear deal that eased sanctions on OPEC's third-largest crude producer." Read more here.
SUPREME COURT REJECTS APPEAL BY FORMER MASSEY CEO — The Wall Street Journal's Jess Bravin and Brent Kendall: "The Supreme Court on Tuesday rejected an appeal by [Don Blankenship,] a former coal executive convicted of safety violations linked to the 2010 explosion at West Virginia's Upper Big Branch mine that killed 29 men." Read more here.
WILDFIRES BURN OUT OF CONTROL IN NORTHERN CALIFORNIA — The New York Times' Thomas Fuller, Richard Pérez-Peña and Jonah Engel Bromwich: "With roads still blocked by the police and fires still raging across broad swaths of Northern California, Matt Lenzi hiked through smoke-choked vineyards and waded the Napa River to reach the home his father lived in for 53 years. In its place, he found only blackened debris, blackened earth, and ash." Read more here.
— Before and After: Fires Tear Through California's Wine Country: See pictures of the damage from the New York Times here.
HOW NEW YORK WILL BEAT JOHANNESBURG TO SOLAR GRID PARITY — Greentech Media's Jason Deign: "Residential solar will be cheaper than grid electricity in New York, London and Munich well before it becomes so in sun-drenched Johannesburg, according to new research. In fact, behind-the-meter solar already makes financial sense in New York and Munich, found a study published last month by the Centre for Climate Finance & Investment at Imperial College Business School in London, U.K." Read more here.
— Oil was up Tuesday on reports that Saudi Arabia will cut exports this year, The Wall Street Journal reports.
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