Editor’s Note: Weekly New York and New Jersey Energy newsletter is a weekly version of POLITICO Pro’s daily New York and New Jersey Energy newsletter. POLITICO Pro is a policy intelligence platform that combines the news you need with tools you can use to take action on the day’s biggest stories. Act on the news with POLITICO Pro.
Welcome to the weekly version of POLITICO Pro’s daily New York and New Jersey Energy newsletter. POLITICO Pro is a policy intelligence platform that combines the news you need with tools you can use to take action on the day’s biggest stories. Act on the news with POLITICO Pro.
It’s Climate Week! A whirlwind of virtual events is planned over the next several days. Gov. Andrew Cuomo didn’t make a big announcement last year and he’s not currently scheduled to appear with a group of U.S. Climate Alliance governors on Wednesday at 2:30. Nor is New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy. The officials— including Gov. Gavin Newsom from California and Larry Hogan from Maryland — are expected to affirm their commitment to climate action regardless of the outcome of November’s presidential election.
… New York’s action on climate is codified in law, with work underway on policies to achieve the ambitious targets approved last year. Panels on housing, transportation, land use, forestry and workforce have started to meet and attempt to hash out a pathway forward. Big questions about the state’s policy on natural gas plants and power markets are bubbling to the surface, but concrete steps on everything from a regional cap-and-invest program for transportation fuel emissions to pricing carbon in the electric markets may have to wait for the election dust to settle.
… In New York City, Mayor Bill de Blasio’s administration has failed to release a key report to gauge the city’s climate progress. The OneNYC sustainability update was due on Earth Day, and the city has continuously pushed it back. An updated greenhouse gas inventory is also needed as the current public one is for 2016. Advocates are also pushing back against de Blasio’s plan to bring Canadian hydropower to supply the city’s buildings and reduce emissions as the full closure of Indian Point looms. The mayor’s office has said they hope to negotiate an agreement on the Champlain Hudson Power Express by the end of the year. The line and HydroQuebec, its supplier, are also eyeing potential subsidies from electric ratepayers across the state, although some technical complexities need to be worked out.
… In New Jersey, a statewide climate change resilience strategy that was supposed to be released by Sept. 1, 2020 is nowhere to be seen. It’s delayed, a governor’s spokesperson said, due to the pandemic. The Department of Environmental Protection is also overdue in releasing a draft of its Global Warming Response Act 80×50 Report, which will summarize New Jersey’s progress toward reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 80 percent below 2006 levels by 2050 — and more, immediately, whether the state is on target for reducing emissions to 1990 levels by 2020. The DEP has been hosting stakeholder meetings in service of modernizing its environmental rules to mitigate climate change. Meanwhile, environmental advocates have been arguing against a proposed gas-powered microgrid for NJ Transit, which officials say is key to resilience and reliability. — Marie J. French & Samantha Maldonado
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Here’s what we’ll be watching this week:
— There will be Climate Week NYC events happening all week.
— New York Sen. Kevin Parker (D-Brooklyn) and others join in a panel discussion hosted by City & State on the role of carbon pricing in reaching the state’s climate goals, 5 p.m.
— The Climate Jobs and Just Transition Summit supported by Cornell starts at 9 a.m.
— The New Jersey Board of Public Utilities holds a board meeting via teleconference at 10 a.m.
— The New York Power Authority board of trustees meets, 11 a.m, preceded by finance and governance committee meetings.
— The New York Climate Action Council’s Land Use and Local Government Advisory Panel meets at 1 p.m.
— The New York siting board meets at 10:30 a.m., and considers action on the Alle-Catt wind project and Atlantic Wind’s Deer River project.
— Sen. Cory Booker introduced legislation that would appropriate $100 billion to advance the cleanup of legacy pollution and ensure safe drinking water across the country, and would also bar the approval of permits for major sources of air pollution — such as refineries or power plants — in communities already affected by it.
— The Cuomo administration released proposed regulations aimed at speeding up the permitting process for large-scale wind and solar projects across the state.
— Gov. Andrew Cuomo blamed politicians beholden to utility interests for limiting penalties those companies can face when the lights go out.
— Central Hudson, one of New York’s smallest dual electric and gas investor-owned utilities is tailoring its rate increase request to focus on replacing and upgrading older infrastructure, stepping up tree trimming and repairing leaky pipes.
— A bunch of new bills aimed at protecting utility customers were introduced in the New Jersey Assembly.
— A New Jersey Assembly committee advanced a long-stalled bill to ban plastic bags, paper bags and polystyrene food containers.
NJ ENVIRO JUSTICE LAW — POLITICO’s Samantha Maldonado: New Jersey Gov. Philly Murphy on Friday signed into law the nation’s strongest environmental justice legislation, an attempt to protect communities overburdened with pollution. Environmental justice advocates nationwide have called the legislation the “holy grail” of the movement and cast the bill as an important tool to prevent the siting of additional polluting facilities in places where mostly people of color live, and who suffer from adverse health impacts as a result. Versions of the bill had stalled in the Legislature for more than a decade.
— NorthJersey.com explains how the adoption of the law was tied directly to the Black Lives Matter movement.
FLOOD MONEY — FEMA on Friday awarded New Jersey $2.4 million to upgrade the state’s flooding mitigation infrastructure. The grant will support New Jersey programs such as flood plain compliance and mitigation database and coastal resilience and dam risk assessments. “As the effects of climate change continue to wreak havoc across the country, it’s more important than ever to continue to invest in flood resiliency and mitigation so our state is prepared when another disaster inevitably strikes,” said U.S. Sen. Bob Menendez (D-N.J.). According to the Department of Environmental Protection’s scientific report on climate change, New Jersey is warming faster than the rest of the northeast and the world, and is particularly vulnerable to flooding. — Samantha Maldonado
MORE LANES, FEWER RACKS — POLITICO’s Danielle Muoio: The city Department of Transportation added 82 miles of bike lanes and 21 miles of protected bike lanes last fiscal year, an increase from the previous year that exceeded its internal target, according to the Mayor’s Management Report. But the department only installed 642 racks for New Yorkers to park their bikes when they arrive at their destination, a steep drop from prior fiscal years. The data comes as the city witnesses a major biking boom, with many New Yorkers turning to cycling to get around during the Covid-19 pandemic. CitiBike added a record 185,997 new members in the last fiscal year, and the city has witnessed a 57 percent spike in biking on weekends since the start of the pandemic in March.
— Enforcement of the state’s ban on single-use plastic bags will start in earnest on Oct. 19, the DEC announced. It’s not clear what the beginning of enforcement means for the sale of thicker woven plastic bags that DEC had previously defined as exempt from the ban in regulations struck down by an Albany County judge. “New York State DEC is focused on continuing to encourage New Yorkers to bring their own reusable bags wherever and whenever they shop,” spokeswoman Erica Ringewald said in a statement when asked about the issue.
— Con Ed plans to give customers a bill credit if they lost power for more than three days after Isaias caused widespread damage.
— Inspections of waterfront septic systems in Queensbury required under a new law found 80 percent with problems.
— A Dutchess County fire training center has been listed as a Superfund site.
— The Western New York Land Conservancy is working to protect the College Lodge Forest as the 96th property under its watch.
— The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey installed several flood protection measures at the Hoboken PATH station.
— The Philly Inquirer gives a rundown on the proposed LNG-on-rails and terminal project between Pennsylvania and New Jersey.
— FERC’s environmental analysis on PennEast’s two-phase project plan has concerned DEP and local officials.
— PSE&G will clean up its Harrison gas plant site after 30 years.
— Officials last week toured Trenton Renewables, which turns organic waste into energy.
— Trenton Water Works was approved for $50 million in upgrades, far short of its request, but a court decision means the city will retain control of the utility.
— OPINION: The principal of Shoreline Energy Advisors criticizes electric utilities for failing to prioritize reliability, instead pursuing diversification so they can grow.
— OPINION: ROI-NJ is optimistic about PSE&G’s Clean Energy Future filing in front of the BPU for approval.
— Suburban Propane will acquire a stake in Oberon fuels.
— A project in Lambertville powers Texas Eastern Transmission Pipeline’s compressor station with solar.
— Ford Motor Company and Ringwood Borough officials are getting ready to clean up a Superfund site, where the company used to dump waste.