Capital Energy: Natural gas flight; Coordinating a Cuomo fracking study

June 2, 2014 by  
Filed under Solar Energy Tips

By David Giambusso and Scott Waldman

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CUTTING CARBON: The Environmental Protection Agency will propose a draft rule this morning seeking a 30 percent reduction in carbon dioxide emissions by 2030 from existing power plants based on emission levels from 2005, according to two people who have been briefed on the rule, The Wall Street Journal reports.

The rule, scheduled to be completed one year from now, will give flexibility to the states, which must implement the rules and submit compliance plans to EPA by June 2016. States can decide how to meet the reductions, including joining or creating new cap-and-trade programs, deploying more renewable energy or ramping up energy-efficiency technologies. Each state will have different percent reduction standards, and the national average will be 25% by 2020 and 30% by 2030, these people said.


  • EPA announces new carbon rules
  • Capital Energy: Coal creeping back; State unprepared for oil trains
  • Fracking fight deals a blow to conventional gas industry


NY UNFAZED BY POLLUTION CONTROLS: The dire warnings on today’s expected pollution controls for existing power plants have reached a fever pitch: coal-burning plants will close, tax revenue will disappear, the economy will suffer a multi-billion dollar hit, utility bills will climb. At 10:30 a.m., Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Gina McCarthy will announce steps the Obama administration will take under the Clean Air Act to carry out President Obama’s Climate Action Plan to cut carbon pollution from existing power plants, which are the largest source of greenhouse gas emissions in the U.S.

In New York, it’s barely eliciting a yawn. The new initiatives will likely bring the rest of the country in line with New York’s emissions standards, already among the toughest in the nation. If anything, the new regulations to cut down carbon pollution will make a New York a national model for states who have to cut air emissions dramatically.

– Nuclear power will be stoked, by today’s announcement, Reuters reports.

– The new rules may be Obama’s last, most sweeping effort to remake America in his remaining time in office, Coral Davenport and Peter Baker write in the New York Times. “The far-reaching regulations will for the first time force power plants in the United States to curb the carbon emissions that scientists say have been damaging the planet. By using authority already embedded in law, Mr. Obama does not need Congress — so, in this era of gridlock, he has a chance to transform the nation’s energy sector and, at the same time, his presidency.”

– They may end up being less significant than Obama’s fuel efficiency rule.

– This is how policy is made when Congress abdicates its role, writes former Obama energy counselor Jody Freeman in the New York Times. If you want to know what happens next, don’t watch the democratically elected branches. Watch the courts.

“BETWEEN A ROCK …” In the upstate-themed June issue of Capital magazine, Scott Waldman reports that the natural gas industry in New York is in retreat, in part because of the battle over fracking:

“The gas-drilling tradition in New York dates to the days when one could dig a hole in Fredonia to run the town’s gas lights. Some 75,000 gas wells have been drilled here since then, and there are currently 14,000 active natural gas wells in New York, powering nearby schools, nursing homes and businesses. But over the last six years, as environmentalists, legislators and the energy industry battle over hydraulic fracturing, the state’s natural gas industry has contracted sharply.”

FRACKING AND POLITICS: During a key period in New York’s review of hydraulic fracturing, the commissioners in charge of the analysis met with two of Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s top political advisers, according to documents obtained by Gannett’s Jon Campbell. Twice last year, Environmental Conservation Commissioner Joe Martens, then-Health Commissioner Nirav Shah and Cuomo’s top aides huddled with Phil Singer and Peter Kauffmann, senior advisers to Cuomo’s successful 2010 campaign who now work for the state Democratic Committee. The two January 2013 meetings were held during a tense time in the state’s fracking debate. One came as a public-comment period on proposed shale-gas drilling rules drew to a close; the other came the same day reports surfaced about an internal state analysis suggesting fracking could be done safely.


– NYSERDA and The Fulton Montgomery Regional Chamber of Commerce, in association with Mohawk Valley EDGE, will have a “Lunch Learn” event on NYSERDA’s Incentive Programs for businesses on Friday from noon to 1 p.m. at Rolling Hills Country Club, 2258 Route 5, Fort Johnson, NY.


CRAIN’S SAYS OHIO MAY BE MOOT: An editorial in Crain’s said while Ohio’s rollback of renewable energy incentives was disappointing, it won’t matter because renewable energy, especially solar, is taking off.

“We think much of the debate surrounding SB 310 will become moot way before 2025. By then, it is likely that green energy won’t need any mandates at all. The break-neck speed of innovation in the renewable energy sector is exciting, especially in solar technology. Low-cost, high-efficiency solar panels are becoming a reality and headed to the market (the average price of a solar panel has dropped 60% in the past three years).”

FRACKING QUAKES? Dozens of families in Texas say they’ve been hit with a rash of earthquakes since November, USA Today’s Rick Jervis reports. Residents and city leaders point to area oil and gas disposal wells as likely culprits. The wells dispose of wastewater used in hydraulic fracturing — or fracking — for natural gas in the nearby Barnett Shale.

Energy companies deny a direct link between the earthquakes and the wells, citing a lack of evidence. The vast majority of the 35,000 disposal wells throughout Texas have reported no seismic activity, said Bill Stevens of the Texas Alliance of Energy Producers.

LIGHT PRODUCTION WILL PRESSURE EXPORTS: Oil produced in the United States in coming years will mainly consist of a lighter crude than refiners are built to use, the Energy Information Administration said, a mismatch that might make oil exports more attractive, The Hill reports.

CRUDE FIGHTS: The Adirondacks are the latest battleground for oil trains. Locals are concerned about trains running along the shore of the Lake Champlain.

IRAQ EXPORTS: Iraq’s crude oil exports increased slightly in May despite constant militant attacks that have left a vital oil pipeline idle, the Associated Press reported. The oil exports averaged 2.582 million barrels a day last month, an increase from the 2.510 million barrels per day in April.

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.


GREEN AGGRESSION: Students who were arrested for protesting the role of a coal company executive on the board of Washington University in St. Louis are the new wave of environmental activists. Green groups are becoming more aggressive with their protests, and it’s proving effective.

“The national environmental groups said, ‘We need to do more in-your-face activism,’ ” said Gene Karpinski, the president of the League of Conservation Voters. “You can’t just lobby members of Congress with a poll that says people support you.”


– Domestic and European Crude, finished down last week on news of increased supply.

“West Texas Intermediate futures for settlement in July closed for $102.71 per barrel on Friday on the New York Mercantile Exchange, down 0.84% for the day and 1.57% for the week …Meanwhile on the ICE in London, Brent futures due in July recorded a 0.51% daily loss to close for $109.41 per barrel on Friday. The tally for the week is a 1.02% decline. Brent’s premium to WTI stood at $6.70, widening last week’s closing margin of $6.19.”

– Natural gas prices dropping, too as stockpiles recover better than expected. Says Bloomberg: “Natural gas fell 4.7 cents, or 1 percent, to $4.505 per million British thermal units on the New York Mercantile Exchange in the week end (sic) May 27, the period covered by the CFTC report. Prices settled at $4.542 on May 30 in New York.”

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