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POLITICO New York Energy, presented by the Sierra Club: Water infrastructure push grows -- Nuke subsidies will hit hospitals -- NJ eyes RGGI return

By Marie J. French and David Giambusso | 03/21/2017 05:54 AM EDT

TODAY IN ENERGY: The New York Power Authority and Canal Corporation boards will meet at about 9:45 a.m. in White Plains.

Attorney General Eric Schneiderman will detail, and presumably decry, proposed EPA cuts and their effect on New York at the Gowanus Canal Superfund site in Brooklyn at 12:30 p.m.

Syracuse Mayor Stephanie Miner and members of the Rebuild New York Now coalition will urge support for water infrastructure in this year's state budget at 10 a.m. at Syracuse City Hall, 233 East Washington Street, Syracuse.

WATER INFRASTRUCTURE PUSH SWELLS — POLITICO New York's Marie J. French: Fresh off two successful campaigns to get more money for roads and bridges, a coalition of business and labor groups has allied with environmental advocates to push for the less sexy infrastructure — water mains and sewage systems. Rebuild NY Now held its third annual rally in the state Capitol on Monday, with workers in yellow-and-orange construction vests mixed with supporters carrying Riverkeeper signs. Lawmakers, environmentalists, business groups and municipal government group leaders spoke in support of more funding for water infrastructure. "We need the money to fix our sewers and protect our water and that will lead to jobs," said Adrienne Esposito, the executive director of the Citizens Campaign for the Environment.

Rebuild NY Now, led by Mike Elmendorf of Associated General Contractors of New York, advocated last year for parity in transportation funding between the MTA and upstate. The campaign spent about $1.4 million. In 2015, the group pushed for a big investment in roads and bridges. Both of those efforts by Rebuild NY Now were successful. Now, the firepower of an alliance between business and labor groups — with the added influence of virtually all of the state's green groups — is aligned behind an investment in water infrastructure. "This obviously is a little bit of a different element because it's not just straight transportation infrastructure, it's environmental infrastructure," Elmendorf said. "This is an issue where everybody can agree because it matters to everyone. Whether you're a business, whether you're a family, a farmer, a manufacturer, you need reliable environmental infrastructure." Read more here.

NUKE SUBSIDY WILL HIT HOSPITALS — POLITICO New York's Josefa Velasquez: Gov. Andrew Cuomo's plan to bail out upstate nuclear plants could end up raising electricity expenditures for health systems around the state by at least $13.4 million, according to a report by a consumer utility advocacy group. According to the Public Utilities Law Project, the tab for health systems could go as high as $33.5 million annually during the first two years of the 12-year subsidy. Northwell Health, the sprawling health system based on Long Island, could see its electricity expenditures increase between $2.15 million and $5.39 million, the most of any other health system, according to the report. Since health care facilities have such slight margins, any increase in costs will hurt the bottom line, said Michael Rohan, the director of engineering and infrastructure development at Northwell. "Hospitals are among the greatest [energy] users," Rohan said, noting that they're never closed and air constantly needs to be purified. As a result, the annual electric bill for Northwell is somewhere in the range of $100 million. Read more here.

NJ LOOKS AT REJOINING RGGI, POST-CHRISTIE — POLITICO New York's David Giambusso: New Jersey's potential re-entry into the multi-state Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative will depend largely on the outcome of this year's gubernatorial election, but it is already shaping up as a priority for the Democratic-controlled Legislature. A bill that would require New Jersey to rejoin the program, which caps emissions for power generators and creates a market to sell allowances, cleared the Senate Committee on Environment and Energy on Monday. The measure is co-sponsored by Senate President Stephen Sweeney and Sen. Bob Smith, the committee chairman. Read more here.

LAWMAKERS DON'T EMBRACE CUOMO TRAIL — Gannett's Joe Spector: "Who could oppose a statewide recreational trail running for New York City to Buffalo to boost tourism and promote healthy living? It seems like a majority of the public and the state Legislature do. Neither the Democratic-led Assembly nor the Republican-controlled Senate are showing much support for Gov. Andrew Cuomo's $200 million proposal to build a 750-mile trail across New York — which would be the largest state-owned trail in the nation. And a Siena College poll last month showed that voters had the least support for the so-called Empire State Trail among the ideas Cuomo announced in January. Just 38 percent of voters supported the idea. Advocates for the trail rallied Monday at the state Capitol in support of the proposal to try to sway lawmakers." Read more here.

— The lobbying campaign in support of the proposed trail included the heads of several environmental organizations, an American Heart Association mascot, Assemblywoman Pat Fahy and a mannequin.

** A message from the Sierra Club: Governor Cuomo's call for a state wide clean energy renaissance places New York as a national leader in the renewable energy economy. Sierra Club thanks the Cuomo administration for their work in spurring clean energy job growth, investing in offshore wind and creating an economy built to last. Learn more at https://sierra.secure.force.com/actions/National **

AROUND NEW YORK:

— The New York Hilton Midtown has hired Entic to enhance its "smart building" operations and achieve greater efficiency.

— Hoosick Falls residents in a letter to Republican Sen. Kemp Hannon released Monday urged him to give them access to documents related to the drinking water contamination in their community.

— About 70 locally elected officials are calling on Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo to halt a tax subsidy program that would allow three aging nuclear power plants to remain open upstate.

— Some labor groups are supporting the Climate and Community Protection Act.

— A look at Cuomo's initiative to get broadband access for even the most rural parts of the state by 2019.

— Attendance is up at state parks, said Mark Thomas, regional state parks director, at a recent meeting of commissioners.

— New Yorkers interested in revitalizing the state's parks can now register for "I Love My Park Day."

— The long wait may soon be over. April the Giraffe's baby is "sticking out," the zookeeper at Central NY's Animal Adventure Park said.

— The Grand Island coyote-trapping debate is over, but the coyotes remain.

— Despite objections from federal officials, New York is moving swiftly to replace I Love NY signs knocked down during high winds in western New York.

— Rock climbers trying to conquer the many routes on Shelving Rock in Fort Ann will be prohibited from parking along Shelving Rock Road this summer.

— The Newsday editorial board opines on sewage treatment funding for the fouled waters of Suffolk County.

GOOD TUESDAY MORNING: Let us know if you have tips, story ideas or life advice. We're always here at dgiambusso@politico.com and mfrench@politico.com.

And if you like this letter, please tell a friend and/or loved one they can sign up here.

WEATHERIZATION CUTS — The Washington Post's Chelsea Harvey: "Among dozens of federal programs proposed for elimination in the Trump administration's newly revealed budget proposal is the federal Weatherization Assistance Program, or WAP, a grant program housed under the Department of Energy that helps states improve the energy efficiency of the homes of low-income families. It's one of several climate and energy-related initiatives that, if erased, could actually hurt consumers in ways that seem inconsistent with the economy-boosting action the administration claims to seek." Read more here.

GOP GREENS PUSH BACK — Reuters' Emily Flitter: "President Donald Trump's outspoken doubts about climate change and his administration's efforts to roll back regulation to combat it have stirred a sleepy faction in U.S. politics: the Republican environmental movement. The various groups represent conservatives, Catholics and the younger generation of Republicans who, unlike Trump, not only recognize the science of climate change but want to see their party wrest the initiative from Democrats and lead efforts to combat global warming." Read more here.

STORAGE IS AMERICA'S TO LOSE — E&E News' David Ferris: "Tesla Inc., is intent on becoming a battery superpower unto itself as it builds a titanic factory in the Nevada desert. But the emerging business is so large and multifaceted that even someone as ambitious as Tesla's founder, Elon Musk, can't do it by himself. So far, the United States lacks the combination of entrepreneurial collaboration, government policy and nationalistic fervor that will be necessary to wrest the early lead from China, South Korea and Japan." Read more here.

DRAMATIC ACTION NEEDED ON CLIMATE — The Associated Press: "The world must swiftly shift energy production away from fossil fuels if it is to prevent a dangerous increase in global temperatures, according to separate reports released Monday by two international agencies. Both reports concluded that fundamentally changing the way power is produced would require considerable investment — though there were would also be savings due to improvements in energy efficiency. The International Energy Agency and the International Renewable Energy Agency were asked to outline scenarios that would keep global average temperature increases below 3.6 degrees Fahrenheit, compared with preindustrial times. To ensure a two-thirds chance of that happening, the IEA said, 'would require an unparalleled ramp up of all low-carbon technologies in all countries.' Ambitious measures would include 'the rapid phase-out of fossil fuel subsidies, CO2 prices rising to unprecedented levels, extensive energy market reforms, and stringent low-carbon and energy efficiency mandates would be needed to achieve this transition,' it said." Read more here.

— POLITICO's Kalina Oroschakoff reports in order to limit global warming to below 2 degrees, the International Energy Agency said that around $3.5 trillion worth of energy sector investments would be needed each year between 2016-2050. Read more here.

— That would spur about $13 trillion in economic activity, Bloomberg reports here.

TRUMP'S ENERGY EO DELAYED AGAIN — POLITICO's Andrew Restuccia and Anthony Adragna: The White House has again delayed the release of a wide-ranging executive order that would start the process of rolling back former President Barack Obama's climate regulations, two sources familiar with the issue told POLITICO. President Donald Trump is expected to sign the order by the end of the month, and possibly as soon as later this week. Read more here.

PENTAGON AT ODDS WITH TRUMP ON CLIMATE — Military Times' Shawn Snow: "For Defense Secretary Jim Mattis, climate change represents a significant national security threat, one that's 'impacting stability in areas of the world where our troops are operating today,' according his written testimony to Congress provided in January ahead of his confirmation. ... It's a tricky predicament for the Pentagon, which has conducted substantial climate-related research, too, dating back at least to the 1990s. Officials continue to factor this data into core military doctrine. In fact, the most recent Quadrennial Defense Review, a 90-page document that outlines the Defense Department's strategic trajectory, includes the phrases 'climate change' or 'severe weather' at least 10 times. On the one hand, the Defense Department stands to benefit from funding rollbacks at other agencies. But on the other, senior officials see immediate, practical reasons to be worried." Read more here.

CA RAINS THREATEN CROPS — The Wall Street Journal's Heather Haddon: "Heavy rain in California could lead to emptier salad plates this year. Two months of precipitation this winter have threatened almond, celery, strawberry and other crops in the Salinas Valley, the latest in a string of increasingly erratic weather events to hurt farmers. Farmers say the record rains could damage and delay some crops, leading to shortages and higher prices. The Salinas Valley produces most of the leafy greens for the U.S. during this stretch of the season until cooler areas supplement supply, and some grocers say the winter conditions have forced them to brace for disruptions in supply." Read more here.

KIDS SUING OVER CLIMATE DEMAND TILLERSON'S 'TRACKER' EMAILS — Reuters' Emily Flitter: "Lawyers for a group of teenagers suing the U.S. government in a climate change case have asked the government and the oil industry's leading trade group to turn over emails sent and received by U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson using an alias address while he was running Exxon Mobil. 'It's possible that Rex Tillerson was communicating with people in government related to climate and energy policy using that email address,' Julia Olson, a lawyer for the teenagers, said on Monday." Read more here.

THE NOSE KNOWS — E & E News' Kavya Balaraman: "The planet's climate has shaped continents, coastlines, land-use patterns — and the human nose. New research indicates that the human nose has, over millennia, tailored itself to best suit the climate it finds itself in. In a nutshell, warmer and more humid environments are populated by wide-nosed people, while narrower noses are more preferable in colder, drier regions." Read more here.

DUBAI STARTS DESERT SOLAR PLANT — Bloomberg's Anthony Dipaola: "Dubai's government-owned utility completed a 200-megawatt power plant one month ahead of schedule as part of a plan to build the world's largest solar energy park by 2030. The 1.2 billion dirham ($327 million) solar plant in the Dubai desert, led by developer ACWA Power International of Saudi Arabia, was scheduled to be completed in April, said Saeed Mohammed Al Tayer, chief executive officer of the emirate's utility." Read more here.

PLANETS GALORE — The Washington Post's Sarah Kaplan: "Is Pluto a planet? It's not a question scientists ask in polite company. 'It's like religion and politics,' said Kirby Runyon, a planetary scientist at Johns Hopkins University. 'People get worked up over it. I've gotten worked up over it.'... But Runyon will ignore his own advice this week when he attends the annual Lunar and Planetary Science Conference in Houston." Read more here.

FUTURES:

— Oil prices fell Monday on indications that production in the U.S. is ramping up, The Wall Street Journal reports.

"U.S. crude futures settled down 56 cents, or 1.15%, at $48.22 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Brent, the global benchmark, fell 14 cents, or 0.27%, at $51.62 a barrel on ICE Futures Europe."

— Natural gas was up as cold weather persists, the Journal reports.

"Natural gas for April delivery settled up 9.3 cents, or 3.15%, at $3.041 a million British thermal units on the New York Mercantile Exchange."

** A message from the Sierra Club: New York has made great strides in the clean energy economy over the last few years thanks to Governor Cuomo and his administration. Because of his work, LIPA has approved the nation's largest offshore wind farm, the state has committed to move entirely off coal by 2020 and reach 50 percent clean energy generation by 2030. Governor Cuomo is focused on making New York a national leader in the clean energy economy. Together, we can move the state down a path that serves every New Yorker and acts as a gold standard for the rest of the nation to follow. Sierra Club thanks Governor Cuomo for his work and urges him to keep moving forward: now is the time to enforce coal plant phase outs, expand clean energy investments and ensure that every New Yorker, both upstate and down, benefits from a clean energy economy built to last. Learn more at https://sierra.secure.force.com/actions/National **

To view online:
http://www.politico.com/states/new-york/tipsheets/politico-new-york-energy/2017/03/water-infrastructure-push-grows-006868

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