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Billy Joel performs at NYCB Live's Nassau Veterans

Billy Joel performs at NYCB Live's Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum on the arena's opening night on April 5, 2017. Credit: Newsday / J. Conrad Williams Jr.

Daily Point

Will Billy Joel join the Belmont Park concert lineup?

For several days, UBS Arena at Belmont Park has touted a "big #music announcement" coming Wednesday. In emails and on social media, the arena, and the New York Islanders, have promised news of a concert to come.

Long Islanders quickly responded, assuming the announcement would be the only Long Islander who seems to open arenas and stadiums around here.

"Please it has to be Billy Joel," said one responder on Twitter.

"Billy Joel is the obvious choice here," said another.

But come Wednesday morning, the announcement was that The Weeknd, the headliner at this year’s Super Bowl halftime show, would be performing at Belmont Park in April 2022.

It made sense, of course, to take advantage of the attention The Weeknd is getting this weekend by making this announcement now.

But Long Islanders still wanted to know: What happened to the Piano Man?

The response came swiftly. Shortly after the arena’s Twitter announcement came another post that seemed to be attempting to quell any dismay over the pick.

"*This is our first show announcement, but will not be our first show. UBS Arena is still on track to open Fall 2021.*," the tweet said.

As one source told The Point Wednesday: "There’s more to come."

Meanwhile, Joel who is spending time in Florida, recently updated his website with tour dates. While he is scheduled to play outdoor stadiums from April through September, his first scheduled indoor concert arena date is, as of now, a return to Madison Square Garden on Nov. 5.

Could a concert at UBS Arena come first?

We can hear the lyric change to "Miami 2017" now.

"We held a concert out in Belmont …"

—Randi F. Marshall @RandiMarshall

Talking Point

EPR is spelling green in Albany

Extended producer responsibility.

It’s a mouthful, and not a phrase that slides gracefully off the tongue. But it’s front and center for many environmentalists this year when it comes to state legislative action.

EPR, as it’s called, is a concept that forces manufacturers to pay the costs of recycling the products they make. For a region and state – and nation, for that matter – mired in a recycling crisis since China tightened drastically the recyclables it would accept, it could be a game-changer, according to advocates.

"We believe that if we’re going to address the solid waste management crisis, EPR needs to be a shining part of the solution," Citizens Campaign for the Environment executive director Adrienne Esposito told The Point during a Zoom call Wednesday with activists pushing New York to adopt EPR.

Bills from Long Islanders Sen. Todd Kaminsky and Assemb. Steve Englebright apply the concept to packaging and printed paper, which make up 40% of municipal solid waste. The idea is that if you make the plastic packaging encasing the toy, for example, you pay the cost of disposing/recycling it – saving taxpayers money since municipalities would no longer have to foot that expense.

And the hope is that companies change their practices to pay smaller fees, by reducing packaging or switching to more easily recyclable materials. Think of smaller cereal boxes that more closely match the bag inside, cardboard for egg cartons instead of Styrofoam, and yogurt containers made of No.5 (polypropylene) plastic, for which there is a recycling market, instead of No.6 (polystyrene), for which there is not.

New York State already has forms of EPR for rechargeable batteries, electronic waste and, soon to be implemented, paint and pharmaceutical takebacks. New York is one of nine states working together on similar legislation, and EPR has been in place for years in Europe and Canada.

"From an industry perspective, a lot of brand owners are realizing opposing EPR is not a strategy for success," said Andrew Radin, director of recycling in upstate Onondaga County and chairman of the board of directors of the New York Product Stewardship Council. "It has tremendous support across the state."

Of course, that’s no guarantee of success in Albany. But the stars might be aligning, with strong support in both chambers and some indications that Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo likes the concept. There are a lot of details in the bills to be worked out and Kaminsky and Englebright need to agree on the language before EPR becomes state law, whether in the budget or standalone legislation.

But advocates are brimming with hope.

"Producers of packaging and the waste management industry have come to the table and want to be part of the solution," said Scott Cassel, chief executive of the Boston-based Product Stewardship Institute who is helping with New York’s initiative. "They’re coming late to the party but they’re coming along. That to me is the biggest source of optimism."

—Michael Dobie @mwdobie

Pencil Point

Needed: A cure for ignorance

For more cartoons, visit www.newsday.com/cartoons

Final Point

A gust of positive news for federal offshore wind industry

New York’s nascent offshore wind industry – to be sited mostly off the coast of Long Island – got a boost this week when a Long Islander was named by President Joe Biden to head the federal agency responsible for offshore wind development in federal waters.

Amanda Lefton, from Port Washington, is the new director of the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, which assesses and leases sites for offshore wind arrays. And local environmentalists and green energy advocates are ecstatic.

"There’s no doubt in my mind that BOEM will now focus on offshore wind and move it forward much more rapidly than we’ve seen in the past few years," Gordian Raacke told The Point.

Raacke, executive director of the nonprofit Renewable Energy Long Island, said Lefton’s experience and skill set would help quickly undo the Trump administration’s resistance to offshore wind and advance Biden’s ambitious expansion plans.

Lefton, who spent eight years at The Nature Conservancy as a policy expert working in areas like climate change, was Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo’s first assistant secretary for energy and environment for the past two years. Her appointment was cheered on Twitter by Department of Environmental Conservation Commissioner Basil Seggos and New York State Energy Research and Development Authority Acting President Doreen Harris, both of whom worked with Lefton on Cuomo’s aggressive offshore wind push.

"She’s one of the smartest, most hard-working people I know," said Jessica Ottney Mahar, policy director at The Nature Conservancy. "She really cut her teeth on environmental issues and climate and energy issues as well, working with the DEC and NYSERDA to get these big procurements for offshore wind out the door."

Besides greasing the gears of progress, Lefton is expected to help resolve disputes between NYSERDA and BOEM over possible sites for wind farms off the South Shore and East End. Translation: NYSERDA identified more areas as being suitable than BOEM.

"She understands what responsible siting of wind means, and understands the New York mentality: We want the wind farms in the least disruptive way possible, but we want them," said Citizens Campaign for the Environment executive director Adrienne Esposito. "The important thing is to get the wind energy areas identified … and BOEM has held them up."

Lefton isn’t the only New Yorker in position to help the state meet Cuomo’s ambitious goals of 70% renewable energy generation of electricity by 2030 and 9,000 megawatts of offshore wind by 2035. Ali Zaidi, who was Cuomo’s deputy secretary for energy and environment, is now Biden’s deputy national climate adviser. And, yes, Zaidi and Lefton worked together in Albany.

Now they have a chance to help ensure that the state’s talk of a green energy future powered by a sea of offshore turbines isn’t just a case of whistling in the wind.

—Michael Dobie @mwdobie

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