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POLITICO New York Energy: Foam wars return -- Court rejects Exxon argument -- DRBC fracking ban

By Marie J. French and David Giambusso | 09/13/2017 09:59 AM EDT

FOAM WARS, EP. 326: MASTRO'S RETURN — POLITICO New York's Marie J. French: The restaurant and foam container industry have filed a lawsuit to block New York City's second attempted ban on the use of polystyrene food and beverage containers. The Article 78 lawsuit, filed Monday in state Supreme Court, argues that a ban on foam containers, set to go into effect on Nov.13, fails to comply with a court order that overturned a previous ban in 2015. A judge in that case found the city's sanitation commissioner did not fully consider recycling options for foam containers in her decision to ban the material. But Sanitation Commissioner Kathryn Garcia, in a May report, again found that it wasn't economically feasible to recycle the containers and again instituted a ban. Opponents of the ban disagreed, arguing that recycling all polystyrene, not just soft foam containers, would be better for the environment and fairer to small businesses who use the material. "The de Blasio Administration should comply with the Court's directive, drop its latest misguided attempt to ban soft foam, and implement the comprehensive recycling program proposed and financially supported by industry participants," Randy Mastro, the high-profile lawyer representing the industry in the case, said in a statement accompanying the lawsuit. Read more here.

COURT REJECTS EXXON ARGUMENT — Inside Climate News' David Hasemyer: "Brushing aside objections by ExxonMobil, New York's highest court has opened the door for state officials to demand that the oil giant's outside auditor immediately turn over records as part of a fraud investigation into the company's positions on climate change. In a one-sentence rebuff, the court refused to hear arguments by Exxon that the advice of the firm, PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC), was protected by an auditor-client privilege. The documents in question could provide a candid, and potentially damaging, glimpse into Exxon's private calculations of the business risks posed by climate change and whether its auditors had any concerns about how it disclosed those risks to investors. New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, who has been investigating the company for more than two years, said the ruling affirms his position that Exxon and PwC have an obligation to produce the documents subpoenaed last year." Read more here.

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— ReCharge News praises New York's clean energy efforts.

— General Electric will be getting $1.85 million from the Fort Drum school district as part of a settlement over the Hudson cleanup.

— The Fort Drum Regional Liaison Organization has formally opposed the development of eight industrial wind turbine projects near Fort Drum, citing concerns that they "will greatly reduce the installation's training capability." Rep. Elise Stefanik has also raised concerns.

— Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced $2.2 million to provide incentives for zero emission vehicles around the state.

— State Sen. Patricia A. Ritchie announced $50,000 in state funding to help maintain Thompson Park's "Honor the Mountain" 10th Mountain Division monument.

— State grants to fund rebates for municipalities to purchase or lease electric vehicles and install public charging stations are now available.

— LETTER: New York Affordable Reliable Electricity Alliance's Jerry Kremer says new power plants should be built in New York City.

— Leaf peeping season will soon be upon us and U.S. News & World Report has named Lake Placid, Alexandria Bay and Skaneateles as among the top 50 places in the U.S. to peep leaves.

— There was a bumper crop of pot plants in Washington County this year thanks to the heavy rains, but alas the fuzz came by and took most of it down.

REPAIRING THE GRID — The New York Times' Brad Plumer: "As Hurricane Irma rampaged through Florida, snapping power lines and damaging vital equipment, it left as many as 15 million people in the state without electricity, the Department of Homeland Security said on Tuesday. While some homes may see power restored within days, utilities said that other customers may have to wait weeks." Read more here.

CHARTING CORPORATE CLIMATE CHOPS — Bloomberg's Eric Roston: "Today, most companies disclose the environmental impact of their operations, even when they're not required to by law. But corporate climate policies, and how hard companies fight for them, may be even more influential than carbon dioxide emissions. A new report has come up with a way of quantifying which companies are trying hardest to push for or against policies that would lead to less pollution." Read more here.

'HERCULEAN' POWER RESTORATION AFTER IRMA — The Wall Street Journal's Cameron McWhirter, Erin Ailworth and Arian Campo-Flores: "Block by block and city by city, utilities face one of the largest power restoration challenges in U.S. history as they bring back electricity to more than 15 million people affected by Hurricane Irma. Almost 60,000 utility workers from the U.S. and Canada are descending on Florida and other states hard hit by the storm, with more line crews and contractors expected soon, according to the Edison Electric Institute, an industry group." Read more here.

SUNSHOT GOAL HIT — Greentech Media's Julia Pyper: "It's official. The solar industry has met the 2020 utility-scale solar cost target set by the Energy Department's SunShot Initiative — three years early. The DOE released new research today that shows the average price of utility-scale solar is now under $1 per watt and below 6 cents per kilowatt-hour. That's higher than the record-breaking project bids we've seen in the U.S. and abroad in recent years. But that's because DOE calculations for levelized cost of energy (LCOE) do not include subsidies — such as the federal Investment Tax Credit — and are based on the average climate in Kansas City, Missouri." Read more here.

— A solar industry event turned into a bash-fest of the companies petitioning for tariffs on imported solar panels.

COHN TO DISCUSS CLIMATE — The New York Times' Lisa Friedman: "Gary D. Cohn, the chief White House economic adviser, is convening senior climate and energy ministers from about a dozen nations in advance of next week's United Nations General Assembly meeting, the White House confirmed Tuesday. The breakfast in New York next Monday will be held against a backdrop of devastation in the United States and the Caribbean from two monster hurricanes that scientists say may have been made more ferocious by warming trends. It also comes as the Trump administration is navigating an uncertain position in the international climate change negotiations, having declared it will withdraw from the global Paris agreement while also telling nations it remains open to continued discussions." Read more here.

CLINTON: OBAMA TOO SLOW TO COUNTER 'WAR ON COAL' — POLITICO's Alex Guillén: Hillary Clinton says in her new book that former President Barack Obama took too long to challenge Republican criticism that his administration had started a "war on coal," which hurt Democrats in last year's election. "The Obama administration was slow to take on this false narrative," she wrote in "What Happened." But Clinton did admit that her infamous comment at a March 2016 town hall event that "we're going to put a lot of coal miners and coal companies out of business," was a gaffe and an "unfortunate comment." Read more here.

SPACE JUNK RISKS — The Wall Street Journal's Robert Lee Hotz: "Earlier this year, a single rocket launched from India flung 104 small satellites into space. A second Indian effort in June put another 30 into orbit, each roughly the size of a coffee can. In July, a Russian rocket scattered 72 more satellites around Earth, like pebbles strewn from a speeding car. These swarms of small satellites — hard to track and hard to dodge — increase the risk of collision for the world's vital communication, navigation and defense satellites." Read more here.


— Oil prices were up Tuesday as output appeared to decline, The Wall Street Journal reports.

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