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Politics

Nanoparticles, nanobeer, and scoring politicians

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Brookhaven National Laboratory
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via Flickr
Psychedelic particles could seek out oil in fields that were once thought empty. Buffalo residents could also soon seek out "nanobrews."

Unshackle Upstate scores politicians
The big regional story this morning is Unshackle Upstate's "scorecard" of local politicians.  The group ranked lawmakers in RochesterBuffalo and Syracuse, and other communities, based on how well they treated business with their legislative sponsorships and votes.

Attorney general hopefuls debate
The five Democratic candidates for attorney general will debate tonight.  The program will be aired live on public broadcasting stations across New York.

Schumer gives thumbs-up to Griffiss
And New York Senator Charles Schumer (D) says a deal to bring an aviation overhauler to Griffiss International Airport in Rome is nearer to complete.  A Canadian firm is seeking to buy the Israeli company that currently operates out of Griffiss, and take over lease.  The FAA still has to sign off, but Schumer tells the Utica Observer-Dispatch

“This is great news for Rome, for Oneida County and for the entire area,” Schumer said in a statement. “Going forward, I hope this relationship grows.”

Nanonews: particles and brews
Two "nano" stories to share this morning.  New Scientist reports that scientists at Penn State and University of Texas Austin are working on training nanoparticles to become the Golden Retrievers of the fossil fuel world.  The particles may be able to seek out hidden oil in "depleted" oil fields, so it can be extracted.  There could be hundreds of billions of barrels of oil left over in fields where black gold has stopped running freely.
 
Plus two "nanobrewers" are looking to repurpose and revitalize an old building in Buffalo in the hopes of creating a chain of tiny neighborhood breweries, according to the Buffalo News:

A nanobrewery is a beermaking operation even smaller than popular microbreweries, and they are popping up across the country, according to Ethan A. Cox, a partner in Community Beer Works. These nanobreweries are attracting so much interest, that some regions even sponsor "nanobeer festivals," where tiny brewers showcase their specialized suds.

Cheers to that!
 
UB chief steps down
Also in Buffalo, thoughts on the real reason behind University at Buffalo President John Simpson's decision to step down.  He says it's to be closer to family, but the Buffalo News speculates that he might be frustrated by the state legislature's failure to act on a massive expansion of the school and SUNY tuition hike.
 
"Race" ends with $700 million in hand for schools
In K-12 education news, New York nets $700 million dollars from the federal government to reform education.  The Albany Times Union says low-performing teachers will be out the door because of the new funding.  Capitol Bureau chief Karen DeWitt says Obama's education secretary Arne Duncan told New York legislators that the cash was "earned" - not a gift.  The money does come with some strings, according to DeWitt:

The money cannot be used to rehire laid off teachers, offset property taxes or to plug schools' budget holes, New York has already received $670 million dollars from the most recent federal stimulus package for that. The Race to the Top funds will finance a new data base and evaluation system for teachers, and for more training for teachers and their principals. Some of the money will go to help raise standards in the state's lowest performing schools.

Derivatives loss settlement comes up short
The Times Union also reports that consumer groups don't like a deal between National Grid and the federal government, to settle after huge losses from a derivatives contract.  The Consumer Protection Board thinks the feds are selling themselves short by taking the $12 million settlement.

The CPB says consumers were likely bilked by "$68 million and perhaps as much as several hundred million dollars in over payments" in a filing it made in the case several months ago.

Fossil fuels
In other energy news everyone is still waiting to find out when and where the EPA will hold its moved-then-postponed Marcellus Shale hearing.  The Press & Sun Bulletin has the details on that, and about a firm in Indian Valley said no to delivering oil containment boom to BP during the Gulf Oil spill - and came out on top.  Other manufacturers got stuck with excess inventory or debt after BP capped the runaway well.

Beech Nut and First Niagara moving (and shaking) on up
Expansions at two businesses have residents worried.  In Canajoharie, taxpayers are facing the prospect of picking up huge water and tax bills now that a Beech Nut plant has moved to a new facility.  The Observer-Dispatch reports that New York's comptroller predicts they could be on the hook for an additional $2,700 a year.  And in Connecticut, folks are worried that First Niagara's acquisition of their NewAlliance Bankshares will be bad for the community.  The Buffalo News reports that New Haven's mayor goes so far as to predict that First Niagara will itself be acquired by a bigger bank down the road.

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