Capital Energy: Astorino’s asterisk, playing it safe on human-tissue power

May 15, 2014 by  
Filed under Solar Energy Tips

By Scott Waldman and David Giambusso

Welcome to Capital Energy, your daily guide to news on the manufacture, consumption and regulation of energy in New York. Sign up here.

PRO-FRACKING, ELSEWHERE: Rob Astorino brushed off criticism on Wednesday that he’s inconsistent on hydraulic fracturing, after it was revealed (by Capital) that he quietly signed a bill banning fracking waste in Westchester, even as he runs for governor on a pro-fracking platform. “I’m in favor of nuclear energy, but I don’t want spent fuel rods in my house, so until we determine that it is safe to travel on those roads, we don’t frack in Westchester,” he said.”It doesn’t change my opinion: natural gas exploration is absolutely needed.”

LIMB BY LIMB: A proposed new law would make it illegal to burn human tissue in order to generate electricity. No facilities in the state currently do this, but a Staten Island lawmaker just wants to make sure it doesn’t ever happen in the future, The Daily News’ Celeste Katz reports. It has actually happened in other states.


  • Capital Energy: Astorino’s fracking switch; Stay for capacity zone
  • Capital Energy: Making Bakken safer, Cahill for fracking, elegy for an energy bill
  • FERC approves more pipeline capacity for city


TRANSMISSION-LINE POLITICS: The New York Times’ Penelope Green explores the plan to run new transmission lines down the Hudson Valley and the growing opposition among people who live in their path. Eminent domain appears to be off the table, but the grid needs to updated, downstate needs more power, and it’s not clear that the entire 150-mile stretch can be buried.

ILLEGAL-DRUG DIVIDEND: The tremendous natural-gas production of the Eagle Shale in Texas has led to an increase of drug shipments, the National Journal reports. The fracking industry has paved roads across formerly desolate stretches of ranch land and added a lot of traffic. Drug runners are using the new roads, and their trucks are blending amongst all the industry vehicles.

MORE PRAISE FOR STATE REV: Following applause from the New York Times this week over the state’s plan to overhaul the energy grid, The Times-Herald-Record edit board also lends a voice of approval.

SHALE BOOM RESHAPING U.S. ROLE: The dizzying boom in oil production as a result of horizontal drilling and fracking has put U.S. supplies at levels not seen for nearly 30 years, Bloomberg’s Mark Shenk reports. Moreover it has dramatically changed the nation’s role in international markets. For the first time in decades the U.S. may not only be energy independent, but may become an exporter of oil.

“The U.S. met 87 percent of its energy needs in 2013, and 90 percent in December, the most since March 1985, according to the EIA, the statistical arm of the Energy Department. Crude output will average 8.46 million barrels a day this year and 9.24 million in 2015, up from 7.45 million last year, the EIA said in its monthly Short-Term Energy Outlook on May 6. Next year’s projection would be the highest annual average since 1972.”

– No other state has benefited from the boom like North Dakota, which had a 2.6 percent unemployment rate in March, compared to 6.3 percent in the rest of the country.

– In gloomier news, a North Dakota oil well has been leaking oil, gas and fracking fluid for days.

PHILLY’S OIL RESURGENCE: More oil trains are traveling to refineries in Philadelphia, as well as some barges of oil loaded in Albany. It’s bringing back an industry that was struggling for years, but worrying some neighbors.


EXPLOSIVE CRUDE: Data released by a lobbying group for oil refiners confirmed that crude from the Bakken shale in North Dakota is very volatile and contains high levels of combustible gases, The Wall Street Journal reports.

– The Wall Street Journal’s Russell Gold was on Rachel Maddow’s MSNBC show to talk about the dangers of shipping crude by rail.

EXPORTING U.S. GAS: The next Keystone XL fight will be over natural gas exports and the Cove Point facility in Maryland where our fracked gas will be moved overseas, Al Jazeera America reports. Critics say it could drive up domestic prices and devastate the environment, while proponents say export gas is an economic necessity.

FRACKING VS. DROUGHT: California’s tremendous drought has caused tension with the fracking industry, The New York Times reports. Drilling the average well uses almost the same amount of water as a family of four does in a year. Fracking opponents are now using the drought to enact bans across the state.

NEW NUCLEAR: Florida’s largest power company received the go-ahead from state officials Tuesday to construct two nuclear reactors in South Florida, a project vehemently opposed by local politicians, NBC Miami reports. The $12 billion to $18 billion project would add approximately 2,200 megawatts of power, enough for about 750,000 homes, as well as transmission lines. It’s still years away from federal approval and likely would take a decade before it is online.

Want to follow the ebb and flow of all the legislation moving through New York? That’s why we have the DAILY BILL TRACKER:

Number of the day: $2. That’s the monthly energy bill in this house designed by a group of New York college students, which uses solar thermal arrays and was designed for a Syracuse neighborhood at a cost of $190,000. Students from Onondaga Community College, SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry and Syracuse University earned first place honors in the the U.S. Department of Energy’s Challenge Home Student Design Competition.

U.S. SOLAR: Yes, every piece of the new solar array at the White House is domestically sourced. Here’s a short video:

JAPAN’S SMALL-SCALE SOLAR: Panasonic is gearing up to meet Japan’s increasing need for smaller solar panels that fit on the rooftops of warehouses and factories. New regulations will make it harder to build large-scale solar farms.

SOLAR ROADS: The roads of tomorrow could be covered in solar panels that run streetlights and buildings. It’s not fantasy, Brad Plumer reports for Vox.

$60 MILLION FOR SOLAR: Governor Cuomo announced $60 million is available through the third round of the statewide NY-Sun Competitive photovoltaic (PV) initiative. Administered by the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority, the $60 million is to fund “solar projects to be located at business, industry and institutional sites that are large energy users,” Cuomo’s office said in a news release. The program is for systems larger than 200 kilowatts. Proposals are due in July.

NUCLEAR STORAGE SAFETY: A Senate committee on Wednesday questioned a panel of specialists about the safety and security of nuclear reactors that have been retired or forced out of business, The New York Times’ Matthew Wald reports.

WANT MORE ENERGY AND ENVIRONMENT COVERAGE THROUGHOUT THE DAY? To learn more about how to get bite-size “whiteboard” alerts that focus specifically on energy and environment issues sent directly to your inbox, please contact Lauren Englander at

Talk to us. If you have a story in the world of New York energy, we want to hear it. Email tips, scoops, ideas and complaints to and Follow us on Twitter at @Giambusso and @scottpwaldman.

CLEAN-ENERGY WINNERS ANNOUNCED: New York State has announced the winners of the PowerBridgeNY contest, a state-sponsored program to bring clean energy innovations to market. The research teams that won the first round of PowerBridgeNY funding include Columbia University, NYU Polytechnic School of Engineering, City University of New York, Cornell University, Brookhaven National Laboratory and University of Stony Brook. Winners recieve a $150,000 grant.

Creepy global warming art project of the day: Artist Nickolay Lamm manipulates photos to see what 12 feet of sea-level rise would look like at seven American landmarks.

LONG READ: Nuclear’s troubled legacy Newsweek’s Alexander Nazaryan explores America’s complicated relationship with nuclear arms and nuclear power and the inevitable fears that accompany nuclear’s potential as a sustainable form of energy.

“Nuclear bombs have leveled two cities—by my arithmetic, two too many. Nuclear energy, on the other hand, keeps electricity flowing through the veins of Paris and New York. This is a Janus-faced power that J. Robert Oppenheimer and his band of European exiles unleashed from the nucleus of the atom, the turgid nugget of protons and neutrons held together by the strong nuclear force. We had been toying with chemical reactions (that is, those involving only the electrons of atoms) at least since the first hominid caused the exothermic oxidation-reduction reaction known as fire; in the summer of 1945, the nucleus itself finally came undone.”


– Solar Universe opening in NY The San Francisco-based solar franchise is opening two locations in Syracuse and Albany.

– At least 274 killed in Turkish coal mine, and scores more are trapped after the mine exploded, the Washington Post reports.


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