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POLITICO New York Energy: NY Dems back AG on Exxon case; solar flight lands in NYC

06/13/2016 10:00 AM EDT

By David Giambusso and Scott Waldman

Good morning! You are receiving the complimentary synopsis of the POLITICO New York Pro Energy newsletter. Pro subscribers are receiving an enhanced version of this newsletter at 5:45 a.m. each weekday, which includes a look-ahead and robust analysis of energy policy news driving the day. If you would like the Pro version of this newsletter, along with customized real-time insights on New York energy, please contact us here and we will set you up with trial access. Thank you for reading!

NY DEMOCRATIC CONGRESSIONAL DELEGATION BACKS SCHNEIDERMAN ON EXXON INVESTIGATION - POLITICO New York's Scott Waldman: New York's Democratic Congressional delegation is backing state Attorney General Eric Schneiderman as he takes on the fossil fuel industry over its role in researching, and allegedly obscuring, the effects of climate change. On Friday, the 16 members sent a letter to U.S. Rep. Lamar Smith of Texas backing Schneiderman's investigation into ExxonMobil for allegedly defrauding investors. Last month, Smith, chairman of the House Science Committee and climate change skeptic, inserted himself into the investigation which Schneiderman launched. Smith, who hails from the epicenter of the nation's energy output, demanded all communications between Schneiderman's office and environmental groups in the last four years. http://politi.co/1Pn3yUA

SOLAR IMPULSE LANDS AT JFK - The Associated Press: "The pilots of a solar-powered airplane on a globe-circling voyage that began more than a year ago said their flight over the Statue of Liberty before landing in New York inspired them on their mission to promote a world free from reliance on fossil fuels." http://bit.ly/1XQgwCN

AROUND NEW YORK:

--The Albany Times Union wants federal regulators to require a reduced pressure in oil train tankers. http://bit.ly/1U84Daf

--The Natural Gas Now blog offers an industry take on the Mark Ruffalo video promoting Gov. Andrew Cuomo's energy policies. http://bit.ly/1sATwKD

-- ".@NYPAenergy President and CEO @GQenergy [Gil Quiniones] gives remarks today at #PhilippineIndependenceDay ceremony," tweets Cuomo. http://bit.ly/1XQhajE

GOOD MONDAY MORNING: Let us know anytime if you have tips, story ideas or life advice. We're always here at dgiambusso@politico.com and swaldman@politico.com. And if you like this letter, please tell a friend and/or loved one. Here's a handy sign-up link: http://politi.co/1TZmBpl

GAS GOING UP - The New York Times' Jeff Sommer: "Gas prices have been rising, though you may not be aware of it because they are still extraordinarily low." http://nyti.ms/28v8aDF

ENERGY FUTURE DROPS BOMBSHELL - The Wall Street Journal's Peg Brickley: "Energy Future Holdings Corp. dropped a potential bombshell on creditors Friday, warning that some of its creditors could be stuck with a $4 billion tax bill if efforts to split its business in two without triggering tax liabilities fail." http://on.wsj.com/1UaCFHF

DEBATING FERC'S FUTURE - POLITICO's Andrew Restuccia: "Leaders on the House Energy and Commerce Committee are kicking off an extended review into power markets overseen by FERC and the Federal Power Act, the source of the agency's authority." [federal Pro] http://politico.pro/1Ud4zCN

BP ADAPTS TO NEW OIL PRICES - The New York Times' Stanley Reed: "As it looks to navigate a period of more modest energy prices, BP said on Friday that it would merge its oil and gas operations in Norway with Det norske, a Norwegian exploration and development company." http://nyti.ms/1UcRJoi

QUICK ANALYSIS OF CLIMATE CHANGE EFFECTS - The New York Times' Henry Fountain: "In this era of global warming, when there is extreme weather like the recent heavy rains that led to flooding in Paris and other parts of France and Germany, the question inevitably comes up: Did climate change play a role?" http://nyti.ms/1OjUCnP

A REMARKABLE SUPREME COURT TERM FOR THE ENVIRONMENT - E & E Publishing's Robin Bravender: "A Supreme Court term that started off as lackluster for environmental law enthusiasts has turned out to be one for the history books." http://bit.ly/233JKNE

CLIMATE CHANGE MESSAGE SIMILAR 30 YEARS LATER - The Washington Post's Chris Mooney: It was such a different time - and yet, the message was so similar. Thirty years ago, on June 10 and 11 of 1986, the U.S. Senate Committee on the Environment and Public Works commenced two days of hearings, convened by Sen. John H. Chafee (R-R.I.), on the subject of 'Ozone Depletion, the Greenhouse Effect, and Climate Change.' http://wapo.st/28vdAPa

BOOMING NATURAL GAS ELECTRICITY MARKET - Forbes' Jude Clemente: "El Niño kept winter temperatures warmer than normal, so at the end of March 2016, the U.S. natural gas inventory was 2.5 Tcf, or 67% above 2015 levels and 53% above the five-year average." http://onforb.es/1WKFLph

AUSTRALIA PLANS $1B CORAL REEF FUND - Bloomberg's Victoria Batchelor: "Australia's government plans a A$1 billion ($736 million) fund to protect the Great Barrier Reef from the effects of climate change and declining water quality." http://bloom.bg/233Kd2i

"When you poke the Coalition's Great Barrier Reef 'rescue mission' it crumbles," by Michael Slezak for The Guardian: http://bit.ly/233KF0t

IRAN TO CUT GASOLINE IMPORTS - Bloomberg: "Iran plans to increase its refining capacity for crude and condensate by more than 70 percent within the next four years as it works to improve the quality of fuel sold on the domestic market and wean itself off imported gasoline." http://bloom.bg/1Ud5dQX

WE ARE NOT ALONE: Adam Frank, an astrophysics professor at the University of Rochester, writes for the New York Times Sunday Review, citing his and others' work on the rapid discovery of exoplanets and the increasing probability that there are or were alien civilizations. http://nyti.ms/1tqyBL7

FUTURES:

-- Oil trims its sails: The recent rally has investors concerned rising prices will raise productivity The Wall Street Journal reports. http://on.wsj.com/1Ud5X8q

--Natural gas prices also fell Friday but investors hope supply will soon diminish, the Journal reports. http://on.wsj.com/1Ud5JOI

To view online:
http://www.politico.com/states/new-york/tipsheets/politico-new-york-energy/2016/06/ny-dems-back-ag-on-exxon-case-solar-flight-lands-in-nyc-004289

Stories from POLITICO Pro

NY congressional Democrats challenge science committee chair over Schneiderman Exxon probe Back

By Scott Waldman | 06/13/2016 05:26 AM EDT

ALBANY - Democrats in the state's congressional delegation are demanding that the chairman of the House Science Committee stop acting to oppose New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman's investigation of ExxonMobil.

On Friday, the 16 Democrats in the delegation sent a letter to U.S. Rep. Lamar Smith of Texas, chairman of the House Science Committee, backing Schneiderman's investigation into whether ExxonMobil defrauded investors about the risks of climate change. Last month, Smith challenged the investigation, demanding all communications over the past four years between Schneiderman's office and environmental groups.

In their letter, the New York lawmakers said state authorities must be allowed to perform their duties without what they say is improper interference from the federal government.

"It is well established that the First Amendment does not confer a right to commit fraud," they wrote. "On the other hand, demanding the disclosure of routine communications between law enforcement and outside scientific experts, which occurred in the course of an ongoing investigation, could have a chilling effect on the free exchange of ideas between state authorities and the scientific community."

Smith's office did not respond to a request for comment.

Schneiderman's investigation, which began late last year, is trying to determine whether ExxonMobil misled its investors about how climate change could impact the company's bottom line. Schneiderman has issued subpoenas seeking documents related to the company's extensive research on the issue. Other state attorneys general have sought information from groups that question the existence of human-caused climate change, including some that have allegedly harassed climate scientists studying the issue.

Depending on the viewpoint, the fight is over the future of the planet or the future of the Constitution.

Schneiderman and the attorneys general that have rallied behind him assert fossil fuel companies endangered the planet by studying climate change decades ago, then burying the research that showed the harmful effects of the planets' warming. ExxonMobil has dismissed the investigation as "preposterous" and pro-energy industry groups have launched a personal assault on Schneiderman, including a full-page ad in the New York Times criticizing him. Schneiderman's opponents say he is impeding their First Amendment rights to question climate change science.

Schneiderman has said his investigation is not about free speech, but rather potential corporate fraud.

"The First Amendment does not give you the right to commit fraud," Schneiderman said in a speech last week. "We are conducting a serious and fair investigation into potential securities business and consumer fraud."

Smith has also sought documents from other attorneys general who have signed on to Schneiderman's investigation. Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey said the House Science Committee did not identify any federal authorization that would allow it to interfere with the investigation.

"Most of the materials that the Committee has requested from the MA AGO, which include investigatory and deliberative process materials, attorney work product, and attorney-client and/or common interest privileged materials, would be protected from disclosure under established state and federal law," Healey said in a statement.

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