Good morning and welcome to the Monday edition of the New York & New Jersey Energy newsletter. We’ll take a look at the week ahead and look back on what you may have missed last week.

STATE OF THE STATES — New York Gov. Kathy Hochul and New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy are each giving their state of the state addresses on Tuesday. Though it’s not clear yet what either will say, their comments — or lack of comments — about energy and the environment will be closely watched.

Hochul is expected to offer more details on her priorities around public safety, affordability and economic opportunity. Hochul has also teased a focus on building more housing, which could dovetail with climate action. Advocates hope to see Hochul again take up a push to phase out fossil fuel combustion in new buildings and end support for gas hookups. The governor’s office has also been lobbied to bolster the state’s offshore wind mandate from the current 9 gigawatts by 2035 to 20 gigawatts by 2050 to achieve the 2040 zero emissions electricity target and support the electrification of millions of buildings and vehicles.

The New York governor won’t have to offer details about funding environmental priorities until her budget is submitted and the deadline this year is Feb. 1. Keep a close eye on the level for the Environmental Protection Fund, which clocked in at $400 million last year.

Murphy only barely tipped his hat last week, when he told reporters he plans to talk about public education and other issues “we’ve been baking.” The context for whatever he says on energy or the environment is concern by industry groups about his administration going too tough on them with things like the pending first-in-the-nation environmental justice rule, and concern from environmentalists that he isn’t keeping campaign promises about clean energy.

He’ll give his speech a day before the first and only public hearing on a flood protection rule that barely saw the light of day last year and which contains significant carve-outs for public infrastructure projects, like road construction. A few elected officials, including a Democratic state lawmaker and a Republican mayor, are expected to hold a press conference Monday to push for the rule to be adopted. After a trio of speeches last year — the state of the state, Murphy’s second inaugural and the annual budget address — environmental advocates were left underwhelmed, and things like the delay of the flood rule did little to assuage them. That’s dealing with the impact of climate change. On the climate change battlefront, in 2022, utility regulators finally released an estimate of how much the governor’s clean energy goals would cost, but the usefulness of the report was immediately questioned by many people, though the administration said it showed it was possible to provide clean energy in a way that saved some people money. Add to this the state of offshore wind, where local opposition is entrenched, while the developer of the state’s first offshore wind farm is publicly worrying it won’t be able to make money from the project. It will be interesting if the governor tries to tackle any of this. If the governor says nothing about any of this, that may also say a lot. — Marie J. French and Ry Rivard

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Here’s what we’re watching this week: 

— New Jersey “elected officials, flood victims, emergency responders, affordable housing advocates, environmental justice leaders” to hold press conference to call for the “strengthening and accelerated adoption” of an inland flood rule, noon at the statehouse in Trenton, Room 103.

— New York Gov. Kathy Hochul delivers her State of the State address at 1 p.m., New York State Assembly Chamber.

— New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy delivers his State of the State address at 2 p.m., New Jersey Assembly Chamber.

— The New Jersey Board of Public Utilitiesmeets.

— The New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection holds a hearing on the inland flood rule, at 1 p.m., virtually with details TBD.

 — CATSKILL CROWDS: An advisory group issued a final report with recommendations to improve management of the Catskills as they continue to increase in popularity.

— ENERGY MOVES: Peter Iwanowicz will be the Energy Foundation’s first New York State Director.He was the longtime executive director of Environmental Advocates of New York and was also an acting commissioner at New York’s Department of Environmental Conservation.

— Adirondack Explorer: Widow of DEC officer gets long-awaited $2M Ground Zero benefit.

— Polio found in Orange County wastewater.

— Love for dirt roadscements opposition to paving.

— Sea level riseadds to worries about the Delaware River salt front.

— A bill would impose new state controls on 28 non-native plants.

— Dead humpback whale washes up on Jersey Shore beach — again

NYLCV ISSUES AGENDA — POLITICO’s Marie J. French: A well-connected environmental group plans to keep backing efforts to mandate that new construction stop using fossil fuels and leverage inclusion in the state’s climate plan to push other priorities. The New York League of Conservation Voters will release its 2023 agenda on Friday, listing off a dizzying number of priorities for lawmakers and Gov. Kathy Hochul primarily to support emissions reductions.

Environmental and other groups are developing and sharing their wishlists for action this year ahead of Hochul’s State of the State next week. After securing passage of a $4.2 billion bond act last year and the finalization of the state’s climate plan, there’s a broad suite of actions they hope to see lawmakers take up. NYLCV uses its agenda to develop its scorecard of environmental bills and issues rankings that are closely watched and touted by lawmakers.

Mandating new buildings not burn fossil fuels is a key recommendation in the final climate plan to help New York achieve its sweeping emissions reduction mandates enshrined in law. The plan was finalized at the end of last year. Last session, a modified measure that sought to get the state’s obscure building codes council to incorporate the climate plan’s recommendations into new construction requirements squeaked through. NYLCV hailed that progress, but now the council’s chair says they still don’t have the authority to mandate electrification of new buildings.

So NYLCV will be working with other environmental groups to push to codify the requirements in law, said Julie Tighe, the group’s president. “That’s clearly the position of the codes council, so it’s critical that we advance this,” she said. “This is something that we absolutely must do this session.”

$500M FOR WATER — The EPA is loaning the New Jersey Infrastructure Bank $500 million to spend on water and wastewater systems. The loan is the first provided through the State Infrastructure Financing Authority Water Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act program, which provides loans to state revolving funds. “The EPA is thrilled to announce our first SWIFIA loan to New Jersey, a state that is making great strides in utilizing water infrastructure investments to improve access to clean, safe water for all residents,” EPA assistant administrator for water Radhika Fox said in a statement. “With EPA’s low-interest WIFIA loan, New Jersey will invest in over 90 communities across the Garden State and create about 16,000 jobs while saving approximately $62.5 million.” — Ry Rivard

NO TURBINES ON THE GREAT LAKES: NYSERDA’s whitepaper on the potential for offshore wind turbines on the Great Lakes seems to put the issue of New York subsidies to rest for now. “Providing a level of financial support to render Great Lakes Wind projects commercially feasible would be expected to be substantially more expensive for ratepayers to support than existing options for upstate renewable energy generation,” the paper says. Limited transmission capacity to New York City and the potential need for port and supply chain investments also make the prospect unappealing to support the state’s renewable goals, the energy authority concluded after reviewing a consultant report on the potential costs and benefits.

This has opponents of such proposals cheering. Sen. George Borrello, celebrated the outcome and thanked citizen groups who testified at hearings held by NYSERDA as part of the process. “Not all forms of renewable energy are worthwhile or make sense,” Borrello said in a statement.

NYSERDA does not rule out the potential for wind on Lake Erie or Lake Ontario in future years. “Taking no action now does not mean there may not be an opportunity to advance Great Lakes Wind at some point in the future,” the whitepaper states. The authority suggests additional research to characterize sediment contamination, regional wildlife populations and environmental resources given the lack of information currently available to pave the way for better siting of any potential projects. — Marie J. French

NEW RESTRICTIONS ON PFAS, 1,4-DIOXANE: A new year means new limits on some harmful chemicals, in particular, products in New York. The new restrictions include limits on 1,4-dioxane in household cleaning, personal care and cosmetic products. A lower limit will go into effect at the end of this year for household cleaning and personal care products. DEC has not yet issued draft regulations to implement the limits but has issued more than 1,000 waivers for different products. The other major restriction is on PFAS in food packaging, which covers pizza boxes, food wrappers and cups. — Marie J. French

NEW ENCON CHAIR: The major open committee chairmanship in the Senate for Environmental Conservation, after former Sen. Todd Kaminsky’s departure, went to Sen. Pete Harckham (D-Westchester), who has focused on wetland and stream protection as some of his top priorities. “With our focus on the state’s ambitious goals enacted in the Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act, there will be much work to plan and complete statewide, which I look forward to, in partnership with my colleagues in the legislature and advocates across New York,” he said in a statement. Harkcham listed protecting drinking water, reducing plastic waste and increasing extended producer responsibility, more scrutiny of chemicals and pesticides and oversight of bond act spending as some of his priorities for the upcoming session.

Assemblymember Didi Barrett will helm the Assembly Energy Committee after the departure of Michael Cusick and Assemblymember Deborah Glick secured the Environmental Conservation Committee role, succeeding longtime Assemblymember Steve Englebright who lost his seat. Glick has been supportive of NY Renews’ new legislative agenda and has also vocally backed a ban on fossil fuels in new construction. — Marie J. French

THE ASSEMBLYMEMBER FROM ILA — POLITICO’s Ry Rivard: A New Jersey lawmaker is fighting to get back the waterfront job he lost last month for absenteeism, in part by arguing his work in Trenton is good for a powerful waterfront labor union. Assemblymember William Sampson (D-Hudson) appeared before the Waterfront Commission of New York Harbor on Wednesday, asking the agency to reconsider its December decision to oust him after he failed to work a required number of days last year.

Sampson and his attorney argued his work in the Legislature was actually helping one of his employers, International Longshoremen’s Association Local 1588. The Waterfront Commission allows employees to miss work if they have “good cause,” a broad category that generally allows union officials to miss work to carry out union duties. Sampson is not an elected union official, but was paid $82,914 in 2021 by Local 1588 to be its political liaison, according to the union’s annual report. That salary is in addition to his job as a longshoreman at Global Container Terminal in Bayonne and his job in the General Assembly.

“My responsibilities as a member of the N.J. Assembly are of significant value to Local 1588,” Sampson said in an October statement he sent to the commission and signed. New Jersey’s Legislature is part-time, so lawmakers often enter the Statehouse with a background and interests, which often shows up in how they vote. Claiming one’s public service is especially helpful to a particular employer is unusual.

In his corner is former Gov. Jim McGreevey, who appeared on camera to back Sampson because of his work for a charity McGreevey runs, New Jersey Reentry Corporation.


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