Editorials from around New York

Recent editorials of statewide and national interest from New York’s newspapers:

The Rochester Democrat and Chronicle on the need for Gov. Andrew Cuomo to sign legislation that would ensure patients have access to abuse deterrent medication.

Aug. 7

Make no mistake, Gov. Andrew Cuomo is doing many, many things to combat opioid abuse and addiction in New York, and we are leading the country in a number of ways.

But, there is another powerful step he could take that would require nothing more than a pen.

Cuomo is sitting on legislation that would ensure patients have access to abuse deterrent medication. The bill passed in both the Republican-led Senate and the Democratic Assembly – not just once, but twice. Last year, Cuomo vetoed a very similar measure passed by state legislators.

Abuse deterrent opioids are pain pills that either can’t be crushed or dissolved, or don’t work very well if they are. Users don’t get the same kind of high that can come from traditional opioids, so the new formulas are less likely to cause addiction or lead to an overdose.

It is uncertain what impact that will have on our nation’s opioid epidemic. These drugs are very new to the market, having just surfaced in 2010. There is not a comprehensive body of public health research showing that they are an effective tool.

But, there are signs that they might be. In one of the first studies of these new drugs, a Harvard team of researchers found that when the drugs hit the market, the nation’s overdose rate caused by prescription drugs decreased by 20 percent over the next two years. There were other things happening at the same time, such as the discontinuance of a much-prescribed painkiller, so questions remain.

Still, the technology shows promise.

Promise, alone, is usually reason for caution. In an ideal world, we would not recommend a policy change without more substantial data and a better understanding of potential, unintended consequences. For example, in the Harvard study mentioned above, the decrease in opioid prescription overdoses was met with a 23 percent increase in heroin overdoses as addicts switched over. But we are in crisis mode, and lives are being destroyed every day.

Abuse deterrent opioids might not be a good option for patients who are already addicted. They might, however, be appropriate for others who are at risk of becoming addicted, or who have family members who are.

However, insurance companies aren’t letting doctors and patients make that decision. The drugs can be more than twice as expensive as traditional opioids. So some insurance plans require patients to use a non-abuse deterrent opioid first, increase the co-payment, or don’t cover the cost of the new drugs at all. The legislation sitting on Cuomo’s desk would stop those practices – putting the interests of patients and physicians first – and quite likely adding another weapon to fight this enormous, and expensive, public health battle.

The law would cost New York taxpayers more to cover state benefits. New Jersey’s governor concluded a similar measure could cost that state more than $11 million, but it’s not clear how much would be saved if fewer people were to become addicted. We’re spending millions in federal and state dollars for treatment and enforcement. An ongoing cost-benefit analysis is definitely in order.

But, ensuring consumer access to these drugs is supported by the legislature, as well as law enforcement, substance abuse organizations, civil rights groups and even the governor’s own Heroin and Opioid Task Force. Cuomo should add his name to the list.

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Online:

http://on.rocne.ws/2biJZk7

The Syracuse Post-Standard on the state Public Service Commission ratifying Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s Clean Energy Standard, which requires 50 percent of the state’s electricity to come from renewable energy sources by 2030.

Aug. 3

On Monday, the state’s Public Service Commission unanimously ratified Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s Clean Energy Standard. The standard requires 50 percent of New York’s electricity to come from renewable energy sources by 2030.

It was the right thing to do.

It puts New York on an aggressive path to reduce greenhouse emissions.

The PSC’s decision also shows that nuclear power is as vital as wind and solar in meeting that goal. It makes nuclear power an environmental asset. It shows you can’t reduce greenhouse gases without nuclear, and it puts in place a nuclear subsidy for 12 years.

Support for nuclear power does not sit well with all environmentalists, but it was telling that the governor’s staff could quickly circulate statements from a number of environmental organizations supporting not only the 50 percent goal, but the maintenance of nuclear power. Opponents ignore the fact that 31 percent of the energy produced in New York is from nuclear.

If the only mission were to push renewable energy sources, the PSC’s nuclear subsidy would not be praiseworthy. But it’s not that simple.

We would not favor building new nuclear power plants. But the three in Oswego County already exist, and the issue of safely containing radioactivity remains even if the plants shut down.

If the plants were to close soon, the generating capacity would be filled by other sources, probably natural gas. While fracking has made natural gas cheaper in the short term, switching to it does not reduce greenhouse emissions. It does not move New York in the right direction.

We do not favor a blank check for nuclear subsidies. The state must evaluate them regularly and Monday’s action sets up a review at least every three years. When the price of natural gas or competing fuels goes up, making nuclear competitive on its own, the subsidy should go down or end.

Subsidies should be a bridge to a worthy public goal, not a permanent entitlement.

In Central New York, the PSC decision is praiseworthy for a more parochial concern as well. The three nuclear generating plants in Oswego County employ more than 1,500 people. They are skilled, highly trained and well paid.

Last year, Entergy announced it would close its FitzPatrick plant in January. Efforts by business leaders and state officials to keep it generating electricity have failed. Now Exelon, owner of the two neighboring Nine Mile plants, is trying to buy FitzPatrick from Entergy. The PSC action on Monday makes Exelon believe FitzPatrick is worth operating.

We urge Exelon and Entergy to reach a deal. There is urgency because FitzPatrick refueling needs to happen soon. The economic impact of closing would be harsh in Oswego County.

The PSC decision dealt with other issues. One is the transmission of power generated Upstate to markets that need it downstate. The state is wise to turn attention to this issue. Whatever the source of electricity, New York’s economic future should not teeter on old bottlenecks.

The Clean Energy Standard positions New York as a leader in new ways of generating electricity. It makes manufacturing of emerging technologies more likely in New York. It forces the state to explore or expand energy sources – like wind farms off the coast of Long Island or geothermal pumps.

Some day, fossil fuel will no longer be the planet’s chief energy source. America – and New York – should be inventing and building new sources. We should not let that fall to Europe, China or other international competitors. America should lead this industry, and it is wise of Gov. Cuomo and the Public Service Commission to put New York in the forefront.

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Online:

http://bit.ly/2ayvhHn

The Oneonta Daily Star on Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump’s words regarding the U.S. military.

Aug. 5

During the Vietnam War, about 648,000 Americans were drafted into our armed forces.

Donald J. Trump was not one of them.

Trump, the Republican nominee for president, received four student deferments beginning in 1972 while he attended Fordham University and the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania. After he graduated in 1968, Trump would have become eligible for the draft, except this son of a multimillionaire was granted a 1-Y medical deferment and later 4-F status because, he told The New York Times, he had bone spurs in one of his heels.

“I had a doctor that gave me a letter – a very strong letter on the heels,” Trump said.

In an interview last year, he said he could not recall which heel it was.

During the Vietnam War, John McCain, now the senior senator from Arizona, served more than five years in Hanoi as a prisoner of war. This son of a prominent admiral had not waited to be drafted. He enlisted in the Navy and his plane was shot down over Vietnam.

McCain was tortured, but refused to give his captors anything but name, rank and serial number. He turned down an early release because he felt prisoners who had been there longer should go first. To this day, his injuries in service to his country make it impossible to raise his arms above his head.

“He’s not a war hero,” Trump said at a campaign event in June 2015. “He’s a war hero because he was captured. I like people that weren’t captured.”

McCain, in a tough primary and general election battle for his Senate seat, has criticized Trump, but has not withdrawn his endorsement. This week, Trump gave him the back of his hand by falsely claiming McCain had not been there for veterans.

Republican Jeff Flake, Arizona’s junior senator, said Trump’s comments were “just laughable, frankly, if it weren’t so serious.”

Taken to task at the Democratic Convention by retired four-star general John Allen for advocating illegally torturing prisoners and “taking out” the families of terrorists, Trump lashed out at the former commander of our troops in Afghanistan.

“You know who he is? He’s a failed general,” Trump said. “He was the general fighting ISIS. I would say he hasn’t done so well, right?”

Clearly, when it pertains to military matters, Trump doesn’t know what he’s talking … and talking . and talking about.

He describes an American military that is underfunded and in disarray, when the U.S. is the mightiest nation on Earth and spends more on defense spending than the next seven countries combined.

He threatens our nation’s most important alliance by saying he would not necessarily come to the aid of some NATO countries should they come under attack unless they pay their full dues. He also blusters about pulling American troops out of Japan, South Korea and other important foreign posts where they’ve honorably served for decades to foster peace.

He has made simplistic promises to wipe out ISIS without any explanation of how he would do it.

And perhaps most egregiously, after being called out at the Democratic Convention for his anti-Muslim immigration policy by the Muslim parents of an Army captain who died heroically in Iraq in 2004, Trump could not help entering into a six-day war of words with this couple who know a heartache that Trump apparently cannot even fathom.

Veterans in our community, local men and women serving in our military defending our liberty, and all of us who are protected from – as our country’s Oath of Allegiance states – “enemies foreign and domestic” deserve far better than insults from Donald Trump.

Every American has need to question whether we want a candidate with this history of disrespecting our military personnel and purpose as our next commander-in-chief of the world’s most powerful fighting force.

___

Online:

http://bit.ly/2aG9k5L

The Albany Times Union on the need for Congress to reconvene and vote on a Zika bill as the Obama administration warns that money to fight the virus is about to run out.

Aug. 8

The number of confirmed cases of Zika in the continental U.S. now has exceeded 1,800, making the fight against the dangerous virus even more urgent. Yet funds needed to defeat the disease are drying up – another casualty of our dysfunctional Congress.

Members of Congress started their summer recess last month in another nasty deadlock, this time over President Obama’s request for $1.9 billion in emergency funds to halt the virus’ spread and to fast-track development of a vaccine. Nearly all the U.S. cases are people who traveled here after being infected elsewhere but, ominously, last week 15 cases believed spread by mosquito bites were reported in Florida, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

In February the mosquito-borne illness was declared an international public health emergency after outbreaks across Latin America. Heart-wrenching images of babies born with the birth defect microcephaly after their mothers were infected with Zika were followed by predictions that the virus would soon make its way to the U.S. Instead of taking necessary action, some members of Congress played their usual games.

The Republican-led Congress pared down Obama’s request to $1.1 billion, then attached some objectionable strings to the bill – like cutting Ebola protection funds by $107 million, restricting Planned Parenthood’s ability to advise expectant mothers infected with Zika and loosening environmental regulations on pesticides that have nothing to do with controlling the spread of Zika. In what can only be described as bizarre, language was also added to reverse a ban on displaying the Confederate flag at federal cemeteries. Perhaps GOP leaders figured they could remove that ridiculous rider and boast that they had compromised.

This was all unacceptable to Democrats, who said the imminent public health crisis meant members of Congress should stop their usual partisan dithering. The stalemate continued until July, when lawmakers left town for seven weeks.

Now the Obama administration warns that money to fight Zika is about to run out, which will mean Americans would have to wait longer for a vaccine.

A partisan fight over critical funding for such a real and present threat to our country in inexcusable. Congress set aside politics two years ago when the Ebola outbreak was exploding across West Africa, allocating $5.4 billion to support our emergency response. Where is that spirit now?

Citing the urgency for the emergency money, many Democrats are urging Speaker Paul Ryan to reconvene the House to act on a bipartisan Zika bill that had passed the Senate. Some may call it partisan posturing; to us, it looks more like a legitimate call.

It won’t hurt House members to interrupt their summer recess (or re-election campaigns) for a day to return to Washington – to do what they were elected to do in the first place.

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Online:

http://bit.ly/2biO0VJ

Newsday on how the Olympic games in Rio de Janeiro celebrate athletic achievement and common humanity, but also offer a sometimes grim reflection of the world.

Aug. 5

Don’t open your mouth.

That’s advice usually given to criminal defendants, protesters in totalitarian countries and headstrong politicians. Nowadays, it’s what health experts say must be done by Olympic sailors, rowers and open-water swimmers competing in the human waste-laden waters of Rio de Janeiro.

On that disquieting note, the opening ceremony takes place tonight.

The contaminated water that officials promised to treat but never did is a metaphor for a disturbing run-up to these Olympic Games – staged by Brazil, a country in political and economic crisis, and by a city struggling with street crime and poor infrastructure.

At their best, the games celebrate athletic achievement and our common humanity amid a marvelous panoply of cultural diversity. But as we see time and again, the Olympics are not an escape from the world but a reflection of it.

Friday night’s opening ceremony, featuring 10,000 athletes marching into Maracanã Stadium, will be a glorious display of pride, patriotism and swirling colors. But you also will notice:

The first Muslim American woman to compete in a hijab. Ibtihaj Muhammad is a fencer who wears the head scarf under her mask. She’s from New Jersey, trains in Manhattan and could win a medal. She also is a potent reminder of the contributions Muslims make to this country.

The first-ever refugee Olympic team. The 10 athletes come from Syria, South Sudan, Ethiopia and Congo, countries contributing to the worst refugee crisis since World War II. Yusra Mardini, an 18-year-old Syrian swimmer, jumped into the Mediterranean Sea when her boat broke down short of Greece and, with her sister, swam more than three hours alongside to guide it ashore safely. These athletes are true portraits in courage and the definition of inspirational.

Missing Russians. Nearly 120 were banned because of their country’s massive state-run doping program. Drugs have been a scourge on sports. But Russian President Vladimir Putin blamed the ban on politics intruding on sport, a reminder of current geopolitical tensions.

The United States contingent, including 30 from New York. Flag-bearer Michael Phelps, the swimmer and most-decorated Olympian of all time, is coming back from retirement – and from a second guilty plea to drunken driving, in 2014. Our sports icons are mortals, too.

Security. It might not be noticeable in the stadium, but will be impossible to miss on the streets – more than 100,000 security personnel, an Olympic record. These are uncertain times.

We hope Rio pulls it off. We also hope the city derives some lasting benefits in housing, infrastructure and the like. But the modern Olympic legacy of facilities that sit idle afterward makes the games’ cost – Brazil is spending about $11 billion – indefensible. Perhaps the time has come to consider a permanent location.

Once the games begin, the action often takes over the story. We hope the competition is fierce but fair, everyone comes home safe and no one gets sick from that water. Then we hope the Olympic movement reflects in earnest on how to make itself better.

___

Online:

http://nwsdy.li/2b6fCj2

Copyright © 2016 The Washington Times, LLC.

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Turning back on Trump, Koch network focuses on Senate
Turning back on Trump, Koch network focuses on Senate
Posted: Sunday, July 31 2016 11:03 PM EDT2016-08-01 03:03:17 GMT
Updated: Sunday, July 31 2016 11:03 PM EDT2016-08-01 03:03:18 GMT

From a lux…

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Does BLM stand in the way of Hillary Clinton's renewable dreams?

With help from Nick Juliano, Elana Schor, Alex Guillén, and Anca Gurzu

NEW BLM POLICY COULD BLOCK CLINTON PLAN FOR RENEWABLES: Presumptive Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton has promised to put America on a path to produce enough renewable energy to supply every home within 10 years of taking office, but BLM may make it difficult to reach that goal. As Pro’s Esther Whieldon reports, the wind and solar industries are worried that a plan under development — and which could be finalized by the end of the month — will only make building on public land more difficult. BLM has been working since 2014 on a program to identify lands it could put under a competitive leasing program for wind and solar development that doesn’t harm sensitive habitats or tribal cultural artifacts. But industry is worried that the new rule will fail to fix problems BLM had before with leasing land for renewables.

Story Continued Below

We’ve been burnt by you before: This won’t be BLMs first foray into this issue. When the agency developed a plan for 10 million acres in California, it ultimately found just 39 percent of the land was viable for renewables. And a sale of Colorado leases drew exactly zero bidders because the land wasn’t near large-scale transmission lines. Even without the BLM competitive leasing process, wind developers are already leery of the extensive environmental review process and high rents — which are much higher than fossil fuel companies pay.

Should Clinton scrap it?: The industry wouldn’t mind if Clinton — if she’s elected — just ditched the whole competitive process. But environmentalists see value in the rule. “Our concern is getting the renewable energy on the ground and operating in the places with the least conflict,” said Lisa Belenky, a senior attorney at the Center for Biological Diversity. Right now, “companies just decide where they want to put things … and so then there’s this whole back and forth about trying to make something that’s in the wrong place better.”

HAPPY THURSDAY! I’m your host Eric Wolff, and renewable energy expert Kevin Eber is really bringing it all together with his plan for an “All of the Above” Trump entrance: A drilling rig to pound through the arena’s ceiling, then have The Donald slide down a poll in red, white, and blue overalls, and land in a pile of frack sand. “And that’s when they release all those chunks of coal that are stored in nets up near the ceiling!” he writes. Well, we’ll find out how Trump makes his grand entrance tonight, and then we can all revel in it on Friday. As always, send your tips, quips, and comments to ewolff@politico.com, or follow us on Twitter @ericwolff, @Morning_Energy, and @POLITICOPro.

HAMM PLAYS THE HITS IN CLEVELAND: Continental Resources chief Harold Hamm delivered a no-holds-barred attack on Obama at the convention Wednesday night. The oil billionaire, who as as Pro’s Andrew Restuccia and Elana Schor reported is a potential Energy Secretary under Trump, delivered a staunchly America-first energy pitch: “Every time we can’t drill a well in America, terrorism is being funded,” Hamm said, slamming Obama and Clinton as enemies of domestic fossil fuel. Connor O’Brien had the rundown: http://politi.co/29PT1TF.

Digging deeper: Hamm charged that the Obama administration and Clinton “want to ‘crucify’ oil and natural gas producers, a reference to the 2012 resignation of regional EPA official Al Armendariz after he was caught on tape likening his work to Romans who would “crucify” people to set an example.

He also said “America now has more oil reserves than Saudi Arabia or Russia,” a reference to a widely circulated study from Norwegian firm Rystad Energy earlier this month that placed the U.S. at No. 1. (Other analyses still place Russia and Saudi Arabia ahead of America.)

** A Message from Nuclear Matters: Providing more than 62% of America’s carbon-free electricity, existing, state-of-the-art nuclear energy plants play a vital role in achieving our clean-energy and carbon reduction goals. The industry also supports more than 475,000 jobs nationally and provides critical tax revenue locally for roads, schools and other public priorities. Learn more at NuclearMatters.com. **

API TURNS ATTENTION TO UTILITY COMMISSIONS: When the American Petroleum Institute absorbed America’s Natural Gas Alliance this year, the trade association added a new focus on “market development” after realizing that its agenda largely overlapped with that of the gas group, API President Jack Gerard said Wednesday. “So one thing we weren’t doing that we now do because of that integration is focus with public utility commissions,” Gerard said. A key concern, he added, “is to make sure people aren’t putting their fingers on the scale to disadvantage gas, at the behest of other energy forms — much like the Clean Power Plan rule,” which Gerard says gives too much credit to wind and solar. “So that’s part of what we do in that market development space — not only remind people that gas is affordable, reliable and we’ve got a lot of it, but in working with PUCs and others to remind them, you’re going to hurt your consumers if you go over here and pick energy forms that are more expensive. Let the market decide and we’ll work it out through technology.”

Who’s your pick, Jack? Gerard spoke to ME at the RNC in Cleveland, but all the political fanfare didn’t stop him from being circumspect when asked for whom he intends to vote. “I always have to consult with my wife to make sure I do the right thing,” he said. “At the end of the day, I have to make sure that the door’s open when I return home every night after work!” Is that to suggest she wouldn’t let him in if he votes for Trump? “No, no, no. That’s to suggest that I will counsel with my good wife and make sure I know her thinking,” he stressed. Gerard, who has led API since November 2008, was a prominent Mitt Romney supporter in 2012, but it’s not just the home front that has him refraining from a public endorsement this time around. “I represent an industry, so my particular views really don’t matter much,” he explained. “So I just want to be careful and guarded on that perspective so it doesn’t skew any impressions of the oil and gas industry — because what Jack Gerard thinks really isn’t important to the API deliberations and what individual members decide.” Gerard’s only political donations this year have been to API’s political action committee, according to FEC data.

FAISON: ‘CLEAN COAL’ NO EASY SELL IN SWING STATES: The Republican party’s use of the term “clean coal” in its platform will cause the party problems in swing state elections, Jay Faison, a Republican clean energy advocate and founder of the ClearPath Foundation, predicted at a POLITICO energy policy discussion on Wednesday at the RNC. As Pro’s Andrew Restuccia reports, Faison said, “I don’t think calling coal clean without explaining [why] is a great political move.” Faison’s ClearPath Foundation and ClearPath Action fund are aggressively backing Republicans who support clean energy, but he’s concerned the party has no coherent position on the issue. “If we have an environmental policy, I don’t know what it is. If we have an energy policy, I don’t know what it is,” he said, adding later, “I think we’re virtually defenseless on this issue. Any purple state, we are at risk and we don’t know it. Period.”

NO MURRAY MONEY FOR TRUMP — YET: Donald Trump filed his FEC report covering June activity late last night, but the document doesn’t indicate Murray Energy founder and CEO Robert Murray gave to the Republican nominee’s campaign last month. Murray’s name doesn’t appear on the 9,200-page document that covers donations received through June 30, despite hosting a June 28 fundraiser for Trump. As ME noted yesterday, Murray’s company and its affiliated PAC in June gave a total of $200,000 to pro-Trump groups.

FERC EQUALS FORCE TIMES DISTANCE: Today’s FERC meeting appears to be the last time you’ll see the commission leadership together until after Labor Day (the commission doesn’t hold its regular meeting in August), despite all those technical conferences they’ve done this year. But there are a few interesting cybersecurity and data collection issues on the agenda for this hot, hot Thursday. It may not sound sexy to folks who aren’t FERC regulars but the agency’s proposal to collect “connected entity data” to help track companies for its enforcement work ruffled a lot of feathers.

The proposal had the standard 60-day comment period when it was released in September, but got several requests for a conference to hash things out in part because it would create “significant new reporting obligations” that would require market operator to gather “substantial information from entities that do not currently participate in a Commission-jurisdictional market.” According to several industry groups, information provided by FERC staff at the conference “substantially changed” what’s covered in the initial proposal. Regulators also haven’t ruled out supplementing it before issuing a final rule.

Commission leaders are also poised to act — a final rule, perhaps — on new requirements that small power generators of 20-megawatts or less be able to stay connected to the grid during oddities in frequency and voltage. The expansion of the rules, which already applies to larger power plants, was deemed necessary because of the grid’s growing use of distributed electricity from wind and solar power.

STEYER STANDS ALONE: Billionaire environmentalist Tom Steyer put another $7 million into his NextGen Climate Action superpac in June, raising his total contribution to his Super PAC to $18 million, as POLITICO’s Andrew Restuccia and Isaac Arnsdorf report. NextGen is spending $25 million on a campaign to drive college students to the polls and $5 million on a partnership with the Service Employees International Union. The group has also spent $4.8 million on ads attacking Donald Trump.

GREEN GROUP NAMES TOP TSCA TARGETS: Forget the FBI, the Environmental Working Group has the hot new “Ten Most Wanted” list. EWG was critical of parts of the recent bill reforming the Toxic Substances Control Act, including the funding mechanism and suspension of state action while EPA studies a chemical. But the group is nonetheless plowing ahead with recommendations for the top ten chemicals EPA should make its first priority. The list contains several somewhat infamous substances, including asbestos, BPA and phthalates, as well as several fire retardants and chemicals used in dry cleaning, aerosols, plastic wrap and even mothballs. EWG also identifies a second set of ten substances for “early action,” including lead, formaldehyde, vinyl chloride, styrene and arsenic.

GREENS, LABOR TRY TO FIGHT TPP WITH CELEBRITY: The Republicans have had Scott Baio and similar semi-celebrities at their convention, and greens and labor seem to have borrowed from that playbook, marshalling low-wattage stars of their own to protest the TPP trade deal. As Pro Trade’s Kaitlyn Burton reports, “The Hobbit” actress Evangeline Lilly, guitarist Justin Sane of the punk rock group Anti-Flag, singer Jonny 5 of the alt-rock band Flobots, and political pollster Stanley Greenberg on Wednesday announced the launch of Rock Against the TPP, a tour aimed at rallying opposition to the Asia-Pacific trade deal through a series of concerts, teach-ins and protests. The tour is being sponsored by the Sierra Club, United Steelworkers, the Teamsters, and the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees. It will launch in Denver this weekend, with stops in San Diego, Seattle, and Portland.

EUROPE DIVVIES UP RESPONSIBILITY FOR EMISSIONS CUTS: The European Commission has laid out its proposed national emissions targets for each EU country in sectors not covered by the Emissions Trading System. POLITICO Europe’s Kalina Oroschakoff and Sara Stefanini get into the nitty-gritty: The national targets, ranging between zero and 40 percent, apply to sectors such as transport, buildings, agriculture and waste management. The goal is to collectively reduce emissions in these sectors by 30 percent from 2005 levels.

‘Flexibilities’ included: Each assigned target was calculated based on the country’s domestic conditions and GDP, but also includes (limited) credit for emissions absorbed from forests and paid for in the ETS, also known as “flexibilities.” The heavy-lifting goes to the EU’s biggest economies: Italy gets a target of 33 percent, and can only use ETS allowances for 0.3 percent of that; the U.K. gets 37 percent with 0.4 percent leeway; and Germany has 38 percent, with 0.5 percent wiggle room. The winner: Bulgaria — sort of. It has to halt its emissions growth, but gets to use ETS allowances for 1.5 percent of that — though even that could be a shock, since it’s still allowed to increase emissions until 2020.

Wait, the U.K.’s in there? Yep — her majesty’s government has yet to formally withdraw from the EU, so it’s still part of the calculations. When it withdraws, more of the reductions burden will have to be spread around the other 27 EU members.

QUICK HITS

Elon Musk’s Vision Includes New Cars, Car Sharing, and SolarCity Deal, Fortune

A ‘Smart’ Green Tech Hub in Vermont Reimagines the Status Quo, NYT

The Risk Oil Drillers Couldn’t Hedge Away, Bloomberg

With largest-ever ND wind farm planned, regulator blames coal plant closing on wind power, Infoforum

Louisiana has no more tax credits for solar owners, Times-Picayune

THAT’S ALL FOR ME!

** A Message from Nuclear Matters: Some of America’s existing nuclear energy plants face early closure due to current economic and policy conditions. Providing more than 62% of America’s carbon-free electricity, existing, state-of-the-art nuclear energy plants play a vital role in achieving our clean-energy and carbon reduction goals. The industry also supports more than 475,000 jobs nationally and provides critical tax revenue locally for roads, schools and other public priorities. If we want to keep America working, we need policymakers to support policies that will keep safe and reliable nuclear energy plants working for all of us. Voice your support for sensible policies that drive our national economy and join us at NuclearMatters.com. **

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Experts hope NSG will adhere to unbiased approach

NSG set to take up membership applications of Pakistan and India this week. PHOTO: FILE

NSG set to take up membership applications of Pakistan and India this week. PHOTO: FILE

ISLAMABAD: The 48-nation Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) is set to take up membership applications of Pakistan and India in its week-long annual plenary meeting which begins today (Monday) in Seoul, South Korea.

Pakistan formally submitted its application on May 19, a week after India applied for the group’s membership. New Delhi resumed nuclear weapons testing after 24 years the same day it sent in its application.

Sources privy to developments hoped the group will strictly adhere to a non discriminatory and unbiased approach while considering granting `participating government’ status to Pakistan.

“The nature of threat that exists today needs to be addressed collectively and therefore, Pakistan sees itself as a like minded partner in the global non proliferation efforts being member of the nuke supplier band,” they said.

“As a responsible state, Pakistan is participating in and cooperating with the international community in efforts to prevent and control proliferation of weapons of mass destruction.”

“The NSG should follow an objective, equitable and non discriminatory approach for admitting new members. Grant of

exclusive NSG membership to only one non NPT country would adversely affect progress in non proliferation, arms control and disarmament measures at the multilateral forums, as well as regional peace, security and stability,” they added.

Being party to the Non Proliferation Treaty (NPT) is one of the main factors considered for admitting new participating governments in the NSG. Like India and Pakistan, Israel and South Sudan are also not signatories to the NPT. North Korea withdrew from the NPT in 2006 before conducting its first nuclear test.

Sources said Pakistan seeks a non discriminatory and rule based system for wider access to peaceful nuclear technologies, which is imperative for its socio economic and technological development. Blocking access to these regulatory arrangements will be tantamount to capping Pakistan’s development.

Dispelling the impression of a delay in pursuit of the NSG membership case, they observed that Pakistan has remained proactively engaged with the group since the start of this millennium and there was no substance in such misperceptions.

“Pakistan’s case to become NSG member is very strong as it fulfills all the requirements. Pakistani public has pinned high hopes for a non discriminatory consideration on the NSG,” said executive director of the Centre for International Strategic Studies, Ambassador Ali Sarwar Naqvi.

NSG decisions are heavily influenced by strong American lobbying. In an exceptional move, the US in 2008 secured a special trade waiver for India even though its domestic laws and non proliferation norms do not permit such an exemption.

Despite being a non NPT state, Pakistan has been a responsible nuclear power and synergistically works with and in accordance with International Atomic Energy Authority’s (IAEA) standards, Ambassador Naqvi said. He added that the country has a well defined and robust command and control system under the National Command Authority for nuclear safety, security, non proliferation, export control and WMD counter terrorism measures, which are some of the credentials considered for awarding membership.

In order to regulate exports of goods, technologies, material and equipment related to nuclear and biological weapons, and their delivery systems, Pakistan promulgated the Export Control Act in September 2004. The Chemical Weapons Convention Implementation Ordinance (CWCIO) already exists since 2000, Ambassador Naqvi said.

Consistent with the decision of the 1992 NSG plenary meeting, Pakistan believes strategic and political expediencies as well as commercial competition should not compromise the mutually shared non proliferation objectives of the NSG. Discriminatory approach for a membership would adversely affect regional peace, security and stability. Equally, it will undermine the global non proliferation regime, he stressed.

The European Organisation for Nuclear Research (CERN) has granted Pakistan status of associate member. Pakistan has contributed 37 out of 300 scientists to CERN whereas India is not even a member of the highly prestigious colloquium. This indicates that Pakistan would positively participate in the NSG too.

Dr Zafar Iqbal Cheema, who heads the Strategic Vision Institute and is a leading specialist on India, said Pakistan has legitimate needs for power generation to meet the growing energy demand of the expanding economy. Civil nuclear power generation under IAEA safeguards is an essential part of the country’s national energy security plan to support sustained economic growth and industrial development, and this can be easily achieved if the status of NSG membership is approved, he said.

Pakistan has established an autonomous Nuclear Regulatory Authority (PNRA) that closely collaborates with the IAEA, particularly on matters of nuclear safety, security and radiation protection. Professor Cheema said: “Pakistan has a four decade long experience of safe and secure operation of nuclear power plants.”

All of Pakistan’s civil nuclear facilities are under IAEA safeguards. Pakistan commits to place all foreign supplied nuclear reactors under safeguards.

Published in The Express Tribune, June 20th, 2016.

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