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POLITICO New York Energy: Long Beach bulkhead shrinks -- Exxon settlement challenged -- Schneiderman sues (again)

By David Giambusso and Marie J. French | 09/12/2017 09:59 AM EDT

BULKHEAD SHRINKS — Newsday's John Asbury: "Long Beach officials said a state-funded bulkhead project to protect the city's north shore from severe flooding must be changed and will no longer cover private homes after the city found its design would cost more than twice what the state grant would cover. The New York State Governor's Office of Storm Recovery had awarded the city $12.45 million in 2013 to build a bulkhead using vinyl sheeting, steel tie-backs and concrete anchors along more than a mile of Long Beach's lowest elevations on the bay side facing Reynolds Channel — an area that sustained severe flooding during Superstorm Sandy in 2012. But the city's engineering firm, Pasadena, California-based Tetra Tech, found that the bulkhead — which it designed for steel — would actually cost $28 million, Long Beach City Manager Jack Schnirman said — more than double what the state had agreed to pay." Read more here.

N.J. EXXON SETTLEMENT CHALLENGED — POLITICO New Jersey's Katherine Landergan: "State Sen. Ray Lesniak and several environmental groups went to court Monday to challenge the terms of a controversial settlement the Christie administration reached with Exxon Mobil over pollution in New Jersey. The state filed suit against Exxon in 2004 over the contamination of more than 1,000 acres of land in Bayonne and Linden, where the company had refineries. The state originally sought $8.9 billion in damages, but announced in 2015 that it had agreed to a $225 million settlement. Many Democrats and environmental advocates believe the Republican governor settled for just pennies on the dollar. But the state argues those claims are false, given that the payment of this kind is more than New Jersey has ever received in environmental damages, especially in a case involving contaminated wetlands. Lesniak, along with the New Jersey Sierra Club and other environmental groups, challenged terms of the settlement on Monday, and asked that an appeals court overturn a decision that denied them the ability to intervene in the case last year." Read more here.

SCHNEIDERMAN SUES ON FUEL EFFICIENCY — Reuters' David Shepardson: "New York, California and three other U.S. states said Monday they sued the federal government for delaying the rollout of higher 'gas-guzzler' penalties for automakers whose vehicles fail to meet minimum fuel-economy standards. The lawsuit, which also includes Vermont, Maryland and Pennsylvania, is the highest profile legal challenge to the Trump administration's vehicle policy to date. As part of a broad deregulation push under President Donald Trump, regulators are debating whether to grant automakers significant reductions in fuel economy requirements. Fuel-efficient cars mean 'cleaner air, better overall health for our children, and savings at the pump ... We will hold the Trump administration accountable,' California Attorney General Xavier Becerra said in a statement. The lawsuit was filed in the U.S. Court of Appeals in New York and follows a separate suit by three environmental groups over the delay." Read more here.

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— A bill that would give the state Legislature final approval of rate increases by gas and electric utilities like National Grid would provide an "extra layer of protection" for consumers but doesn't appear to replace the state Public Service Commission's role.

— Monolith Solar has hired Michael Hickey as its new CEO, bringing in one of the Capital Region's most respected managers and technology entrepreneurs.

— Could all those massive hurricanes delay aid for flooding along the shoreline of Lake Ontario? (Probably not, federal lawmakers from the state say.)

— LETTER: New York Affordable Reliable Electricity Alliance's Jerry Kremer says New York needs natural gas to replace Indian Point.

— LETTER: A Jefferson County businessman criticizes Cuomo's energy policies.

— ICYMI: RTO Insider reports on the New York stakeholder meeting about carbon pricing last week.

IRMA'S AFTERMATH — The Wall Street Journal's Arian Campo-Flores, Leslie Scism and Jon Kamp: "Millions in Florida were without power Monday, a day after Hurricane Irma landed in the state with whipping winds, drenching rains and coastal flooding, and as state officials and residents began to assess the storm's damage." Read more here.

— It could've been worse: "Hurricane Irma was a powerful, sprawling storm that decimated parts of the Caribbean and as a weaker tropical storm, it continues to inundate northern Florida and the South Carolina coast. But the storm didn't obliterate Miami, inundate the Gulf Coast with excessive storm surge or destroy thousands of homes on the west coast of Florida as feared. Meteorologists say there are three main reasons why." Read more here.

— His Holiness weighs in: "Pope Francis has warned the recent spate of hurricanes should prompt people to understand that humanity will 'go down' if it does not address climate change and history will judge those who deny the science on its causes ... and that 'if we don't turn back, we will go down.' He also chastised politicians who doubt man-made climate change, saying they have a moral responsibility to act and branding those who do not as 'stupid.'" Read more here.

VW VOWS ELECTRIC MODELS — Bloomberg's Christopher Rauwald: "Volkswagen AG Chief Executive Officer Matthias Mueller announced sweeping plans to build electric versions of all 300 models in the group's lineup as the world's largest automaker accelerates the shift away from combustion engines and tries to draw a line under the emissions-cheating scandal." Read more here.

SOLAR SLUMP AHEAD — Greentech Media's Julia Pyper: "The U.S. solar industry has grown accustomed to record-breaking growth. New capacity additions have increased every year since record keeping began. Last year, the U.S. market installed 14.8 gigawatts of solar PV -- nearly doubling the capacity installed the year prior. In 2016, solar also became the top-ranked source of new electric generating capacity for the first time ever. This year, things look different — particularly for the residential solar segment." Read more here.

MEGA PIPELINE IPO PLANNED — The Wall Street Journal's Sarah Kent: "BP is moving forward with plans to float some of its vast network of U.S. pipelines in a move that would spin out cash from the company's infrastructure assets across America." Read more here.

TESLA AUTOPILOT FAULTED — Bloomberg's Alan Levin: "Federal accident investigators are poised to find that Tesla Inc.'s auto-driving system should share blame for a fatal 2016 crash in which a Model S sedan drove itself into the side of a truck. The investigative staff of U.S. National Transportation Safety Board, in its first probe of the wave of autonomous driving systems being introduced by carmakers, has recommended that Tesla's Autopilot system be declared a contributing factor in the crash because it allowed the driver to go for long periods without steering or apparently even looking at the road, according to a person briefed on the findings." Read more here.

WIND TURBINES BLOCK MILITARY ROUTES — NPR's Joe Wertz: "The hulking C-17 is the pack mule of the United States military, designed to lift and transport troops, tanks and even helicopters. Every American C-17 pilot is trained at the Altus Air Force Base in southwestern Oklahoma, where flight instructor Adam Bergoo says a key lesson is how to fly close to the ground. 'That's one of our military missions, is to fly low-level, because that basically reduces the risk of detection, and getting shot at by the bad guys,' he says. The western part of Oklahoma has been ideal for this because the skies are wide open. But Bergoo says one of his training routes is now partially blocked by a wind farm." Read more here.


— Oil edged higher Monday as hurricane fears eased slightly and investors saw renewed optimism over Saudi production cuts, The Wall Street Journal reports.

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