From Heard Around Town, April 20, 2012 * Newt Gingrich laid out some of the "big ideas" underlying his now virtually impossible run for the presidency at last night's New York Republican Party dinner in midtown Manhattan: opening up offshore and federal lands for oil and gas drilling and using the royalties to pay down the debt, making America energy independent to avoid overseas military conflicts, and shifting some of the focus from Iran to the already nuclear-armed Pakistan and holding hearings on how the country harbored Osama bin Laden. But the former House speaker drew his biggest applause after he acknowledged the long odds in the his primary race with Mitt Romney and pledged that beating President Barack Obama is his most important goal. "I've stayed in the race to articulate big themes and big issues," Gingrich said, adding: "I'm clearly the underdog by a huge margin. But if I were to become the nominee, (Romney) would work all out because our grandchildren's future is stake. If he becomes the nominee, Callista and I will work for him because it's our grandchildren's future at stake. The fact is we are dedicated to reunifying the Republican Party and winning the presidency." *A coalition of elected officials and environmental, labor, community and business groups have joined forces with NRG Energy in an effort to replace the company's Astoria power plant with a cleaner, more productive and more efficient facility, and they're hoping for a boost from Gov. Andrew Cuomo's new "energy highway" initiative. This week the new Smart Power NY coalition called on Cuomo to back the repowering project, which has the regulatory green light but has been stalled by a lack of funding. Beyond simply endorsing the project, the coalition wants the governor to prod the New York Power Authority into signing a long-term contract to buy NRG's energy, which would allow the company to secure funding to rebuild its plant. Queens Assemblywoman Aravella Simotas, the coalition chair, doesn't anticipate opposition from the governor. "I think this is a project that really mirrors the goal that he has set for producing cleaner, more efficient energy here in New York State," Simotas said. "If it's a project the governor's task force accepts and thinks is a good thing, then it will be much easier to get the (power purchase agreement), and obviously you need that in order to finance the project." To read the full Heard Around Town from City & State [click here](http://www.cityandstateny.com/heard-town-april-20-2012/).