Stories by Amy Myers Jaffe

Expert Voices

Lower EPA fuel efficiency standards threaten U.S. energy dominance

traffic jam on highway outside Chicago
Chicago traffic. Photo: Patrick Gorski / NurPhoto via Getty Images

EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt has issued a draft plan to weaken greenhouse gas emissions and fuel economy standards for automobiles. If approved by President Trump, the policy will create a conflict with California and the 12 states that follow its rules. They will likely keep the current tighter standards on the books while other states opt to follow the new, weaker rules.

Why it matters: The fuel economy standards for automobiles were a key pillar in the U.S. pledge to reduce greenhouse gases to 26–28% of 2005 levels by 2025 under the Paris Agreement. They would provide carbon savings equivalent to 272 million tons of CO2.

Expert Voices

What the Saudi shake-up means for oil prices

Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. Photo: Saudi Press Agency via AP

Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman's decision to shake up Saudi Arabia's longstanding patronage system and root out "corruption" introduces further uncertainties after a decade of black swan events in global oil. Just when companies were adjusting to the idea that oil prices might be lower for longer, the prospect of Saudi Arabia behaving in less than predictable ways is unnerving pundits and oil market participants alike.

Saudi Arabia has generally played the role of conservative power across the Middle East, with longstanding alliances and consistent geopolitical responses. When the kingdom declared — in the midst of U.S. efforts to negotiate a deal on nuclear weapons with Iran — that it would now pursue its own interests more vigorously, few would have foreseen the kingdom taking on a two-front war and replenishing its treasury with the restitution to the state of billions of dollars in assets amassed by Saudi princes and executives whose business-as-usual practices were highly unpopular with average Saudis.

What's next: Odds are that oil prices will now wind up higher than otherwise expected. Riyadh can ill afford an oil price collapse, forcing it to endorse policies inside the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) and beyond that keep the price of oil lofty. Another contingency is the prospect of expanded conflict in the Mideast from a more muscular Saudi stance, which could move oil markets back onto a pins-and-needles footing.