"New York’s GOP pols consider helping a billionaire’s biofuels."
"Most voters may think of Democrats as the party that forces expensive environmental rules on an unsuspecting public. But as New Yorkers suffer through another cold winter, they’re getting worried that Republicans could soon increase the cost of staying warm.
In a Monday story in the New York Post, Fred Dicker reports that GOP members of the state Senate are trying to impose a new biofuels mandate for heating oil at the behest of billionaire John Catsimatidis. A prolific donor to both political parties, Mr. Catsimatidis owns United Metro Energy, which is preparing to open one of the country’s largest biofuel plants in Brooklyn.
The proposed mandate would require that all heating oil sold in the state contain at least 2% biofuel, which can come from used restaurant grease and cooking oils but is typically made from soybeans. New York City has had such a mandate since 2012, and now United Metro wants to take it statewide.
Mr. Dicker writes that the mandate “could add $150 million a year to heating costs in New York, business sources have told The Post.” Michael Woloz, a lobbyist for Mr. Catsimatidis, claims the oil with biofuel is cheaper than regular heating oil. And Mr. Catsimatidis tells us that politicians of both parties as well as the public are eager for more biofuel. “Everybody loves it. Consumers love it,” he says. Apparently they love it so much that they won’t buy it without a state law forcing them to do so.
And unfortunately the Republican majority leader of the state Senate, Dean Skelos, [Dist. 9] hasn’t ruled out erecting this monument to crony capitalism.His spokesman Scott Reif tells us the plan is unlikely to become law and says, “We aren’t going to do anything that increases the cost of home heating oil.”
But he adds that Republicans “will look at” the mandate. Why not let consumers decide for themselves how much they love biofuels?"
Republican NY State Sen. Majority Leader Dean Skelos' District 9, suburbs of NY City, southwest Nassau county. Skelos bio.
Added: "Republican pal" Catsimatidis worked a loophole with democrat NYC Mayor de Blasio to finance NY State Democrat candidates ahead of Nov. 2014 elections hoping they'd win control of NY State Senate. The effort failed, but NY State Republicans act like Democrats so no matter.
3/4/15, "Billionaire Trying to Force Costly Green Mandate on New York," Washington Free Beacon, Brent Scher
|John Catsimatidis, AP|
"Billionaire John Catsimatidis is working to slip a biofuel mandate that would add $150 million to New Yorkers’ heat expenses into the state budget just as a company he owns completes construction of the largest biofuel plant in the region.
The New York Post reports that Catsimatidis’ lobbyists are putting the pressure on State senators to slip a provision that would require all heating oil sold in New York to contain “2 percent or more of soybean oil and/or spent vegetable oils.”that will be the largest plant in the Northeast, according to the report.
Catsimatidis is building a biofuel-processing plant in Brooklyn
Catsimatidis is building a biofuel-processing plant in Brooklyn
[Catsimatidis is] also the owner of United Metro Energy Corp., a large company that is putting the finishing touches on a massive Brooklyn biofuel-processing plant that will be the largest in the Northeast when it opens this fall. […] He stands to make a windfall profit, both in terms of the increased value of United Metro and from the opening of a massive new market for biofuel sales, energy industry insiders said.Catsimatidis, who is well known in New York City as the owner of grocery store chain Gristedes, was a central figure in an effort to use a campaign finance loophole to funnel money to the Democrats’ 2014 battle for control of the state senate.
At the request of New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio, Catsimatidis cut a $50,000 check to the little-known Putnam County Democratic Committee, which in turn gave the money to individual Democratic candidates that are legally prohibited from receiving such large sums from individual donors, according to a New York Daily News report.
Interestingly, Catsimatidis is now trying to buy the Daily News, the paper that conducted the investigation into his role in de Blasio’s scheme.
Catsimatidis’ relationship with de Blasio was born out of his longtime friendship with the Clinton family. The Clintons have been on the receiving end of a lot of Catsimatidis money, including more than $750,000 for Hillary Clinton’s failed presidential bid in 2008.
The relationship between Catsimatidis and the Clintons remains strong. Just a few months ago, a picture was captured of Catsimatidis’ daughter being grasped by former president Bill Clinton." via Junk Science
Catsimatidis is a Hillary donor and longtime friend of Clintons. Now NY State Senate Republicans are helping him get his windfall biofuels mandate:
3/2/15, "Catsimatidis trying to slip pricey biofuels mandate into budget," Fredric U. Dicker
"With a bitter-cold winter and skyrocketing heating oil use, the GOP’s timing couldn’t be worse. Senate Republicans, under pressure from maverick supermarket billionaire John Catsimatidis, are trying to slip a “green biofuels” mandate into Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s new budget that could add $150 million a year to heating costs in New York, business sources have told The Post.
Catsimatidis, a Republican mayoral hopeful in 2013 and a heavy campaign contributor to Senate Republicans as well as Cuomo, is well known in the city for owning the Gristedes supermarket chain.
But he’s also the owner of United Metro Energy Corp., a large company that is putting the finishing touches on a massive Brooklyn biofuel-processing plant that will be the largest in the Northeast when it opens this fall.
Catsimatidis told The Post that his lobbyists, including the well-connected firm Connelly McLaughlin and Woloz, “are trying to get it done’’ and that he’s “hopeful’’ the biofuel mandate — forcing homeowners and businesses to use a mix of traditional petroleum heating oil with soybean- and other vegetable-based oils — will be approved this year.
He stands to make a windfall profit, both in terms of the increased value of United Metro and from the opening of a massive new market for biofuel sales, energy industry insiders said.
Senate Republicans were described by nervous business groups as moving to put the mandate into Cuomo’s budget because of Catsimatidis’ influence and heavy lobbying from Senate-connected biofuel interests, including the National Biodiesel Board, a producers’ umbrella group that includes United Metro and Midwestern soybean farmers.
Among the politically connected lobbyists hired by the Biodiesel Board is Mike Avella, former chief counsel to Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos (R-Nassau). Avella’s firm, Meara Avella Dickinson, includes Brian Meara, a key cooperating witness in US Attorney Preet Bharara’s corruption case against former Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver (D-Manhattan).
Other politically “wired’’ lobbyists pushing biofuels include Mike Trunzo, son of former Republican Sen. Caesar Trunzo and one-time chief of staff to Sen. Kemp Hannon (R-Nassau); Evan Stavisky, son of Sen. Toby Stavisky (D-Queens); and Cynthia Shenker, former counsel to three Assembly majority leaders, official records show.
Asked about the biofuels mandate, Skelos spokesman Scott Reif would say only that Senate Republicans “are now reviewing it and considering all relevant issues.’’
However, National Federation of Independent Businesses New York director Mike Durant said there’s a widespread belief that the Senate GOP is trying to convince Cuomo to include the mandate in the budget.
“Some advocates of this requirement have close ties to the Senate Republicans and they’re trying to work those relationships to get this done,’’ Durant said.
Another business lobbyist said, “It’s hard to imagine that the Senate, with its Long Island and upstate members whose constituents depend on heating oil to stay warm on these frigid days, would consider mandating additional costs to benefit a well-connected New York City billionaire.’’
The biofuels mandate would require all petroleum-based heating oil sold in the state to contain 2 percent or more of soybean oil and/or spent vegetable oils, such as those used in frying foods, a supposed effort to reduce greenhouse gases.
Many business leaders, however, contend the mandate is actually an unjustified subsidy to the company of a wealthy campaign contributor as well as out-of-state soybean growers that will do nothing to address climate concerns.
“Biofuels,’’ much like the ethanol added to petroleum-based gasoline, contain less energy per gallon than oil from petroleum, and therefore, add to the cost of producing heat and energy..
Last year, Cuomo vetoed a biofuels mandate that wasn’t part of the budget, citing cost concerns. But this year, business groups fear that the governor, who has increasingly embraced environmental causes, may allow the mandate to be slipped into the budget."
"The hefty donations also were notable because the Putnam County Democratic Committee had not received a check for more than $1,000 in at least 15 years."
10/29/14, "EXCLUSIVE: Using campaign finance loophole, Mayor de Blasio steers huge amounts of money into Democratic battle for state Senate," NY Daily News, Kenneth Lovett
"The mayor helped to solicit a $50,000 donation from supermarket mogul John Catsimatidis for the Putnam County Democratic Committee. A loophole in campaign finance rules allowed the committee to then shift the money into the campaigns of two Democrats running for state Senate."
"State campaign finance rules prohibit donations of more than $10,300 to an individual candidate. But donors can give as much as $103,000 to county political committees, and those committees can transfer unlimited amounts of money to individual campaigns. Told about the money that made its way to the Gipson and Wagner campaigns, Bill Mahoney of the New York Public Interest Research Group said, “This clearly seems like an attempt to circumvent contribution limits.”
The hefty donations also were notable because the Putnam County Democratic Committee had not received a check for more than $1,000 in at least 15 years
De Blasio is helping to lead a coalition of unions and activists who have been working to reclaim the state Senate for the Dems."
11/13/14, "Meet the Dem Donors Who Tried to Buy the New York State Senate," Washington Free Beacon staff
"An unusual assortment of donors from around the country poured last-minute six-figure donations into the New York state Democratic Party’s unsuccessful effort to recapture the state senate from the GOP this month.
The contributors ranged from supermarket tycoon John Catsimatidis—who ran for New York City mayor as a Republican in 2013—to media heiress and progressive activist Abigail Disney. Labor unions and New York City Mayor DeBlasio aggressively backed the failed effort to capture the state senate for Democrats, which would have helped DeBlasio advance his progressive agenda on education, immigration, and minimum wage issues."...