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Energy

Indian Point is a top priority for nuclear officials

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Tony the Misfit
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via Flickr
Indian Point nuclear power plant is the "top" priority for the Nuclear Regulatory Commission.

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission told New York officials earlier this week that the Indian Point plant will be its "first and top priority," reports Liz Benjamin at State of Politics:

As a result of the meeting today at its Maryland HQ, the NRC has also agreed to sign a memorandum of understanding that requires the sharing of federal data regarding seismic risk specific to Indian Point with New York technical experts and include those experts as part of the on-site inspection team that will evaluate Indian Point with regard to seismic risk. In addition, NRC Chair Greg Jaczko has agreed to conduct a personal site inspection of Indian Point with New York officials.

Tim Knauss at the Post-Standard reports that the rest of New York's plants aren't at the same seismic risk as Indian Point:

The NRC’s reassessment of seismic data began in 2005. An initial review of all 104 U.S. plants found no need for additional measures to protect four Upstate New York reactors, including three in Oswego County and one in Wayne County, said Neil Sheehan, speaking for the NRC. At 27 facilities, the NRC wants to collect more information about seismic risks to see if upgrades are needed, Sheehan said. The two Indian Point units are the only ones in New York on the list. Cuomo, who opposes Indian Point’s application for relicensing, said the NRC agreed to share seismic information with the state and to allow state representatives to participate in seismic inspections.

Ethanol

Ethanol is partly to blame for rising food prices across the globe, reports Kevin Bullis at MIT's Technology Review:

Federal ethanol mandates in the United States have played an important role in the increase in corn prices, which are approaching $7 a bushel, up from historical norms of $2 to $3. The mandates—called the renewable fuel standard—require fuel distributors to use a certain amount of ethanol each year, with the amount increasing each year. In 2005, when the mandates were first introduced (legislation signed by President Bush in 2007 subsequently expanded the federal mandates), ethanol production accounted for only 5 to 10 percent of the demand for corn in the United States, says C. Ford Runge, professor of applied economics and law at the University of Minnesota. Now it's up to roughly 40 percent, he says. (The standard calls for 13.95 billion gallons of renewable fuel, almost all of which will come from corn-based ethanol.)

Natural gas drilling

The Village of Owego has turned back an offer by Inflection Energy to buy used wastewater, reports Jon Campbell at the Press & Sun-Bulletin.  The firm had offered to buy up to 200,000 gallons of wastewater at 5 cents a gallon - per day.  But board members passed on the deal - and voted to censure the mayor for "lack of cooperation:"

The motion to kill the Inflection offer was made by third-ward Trustee James Legursky, who said he was concerned with the wording of the contract, which did not require the company to purchase a minimum amount. "We were going around and around that there was $3.6 million (annually) out there for the village with this deal," Legursky said. "The way the contract was written, there was no money in there for the Village of Owego. Every time we would try to get a minimum in there, it never happened. The wording would change, but the meaning would be the same."

Mayor Edward Arrington rebutted that the board had "walked away from a source of revenue."

Energy companies claiming "force majeure" in the Southern Tier have had their leases with landowners voided, after missing payments due when they tried to extend the length of drilling contracts. Campbell reports at PSB that that's the ruling from a federal judge. 

The ruling, issued early Tuesday afternoon, does not put an end to the "force majeure" debate. Several gas companies have tried to extend leases because of New York's moratorium, but [Judget David] Peebles' decision was based largely on the rental payment issue. "The election not to pay delay rentals was made by another operator before [energy company] Chesapeake [Appalachia] took over administration of these leases," said Brian Grove, a Chesapeake spokesman. "This decision does not pass judgment on whether there is a force majeure event in New York state." Grove said Chesapeake is "currently evaluating its options regarding this decision."

Anti-hydrofracking activists are heading to Albany tomorrow to lobby the governor to hold to his word to conduct "a comprehensive study" on the drilling technique.  Julie Sherwood reports at the Messenger Post that activists are working to build momentum for their movement:

Nadia Harvieux, program coordinator and watershed educator with Canandaigua Lake Watershed Association, said it’s important to continue lobbying efforts to protect the Finger Lakes. “The momentum is building for sure,” she said. “It is really important to learn about the risks. The need for natural gas is not so great that it outweighs protecting our region.” “We need to send a strong message. The whole nation is watching what we do.”

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