Stories by Kevin Book

Expert Voices

In tariff reprisal, China puts U.S. energy in the crosshairs

Chinese workers prepare panels that will be part of a large floating solar farm project under construction
Workers prepare panels that will be part of a large floating solar farm project under construction on June 13, 2017, in Huainan, Anhui province, China. Photo: Kevin Frayer via Getty Images

The new tariffs on U.S. steel imports were already poised to raise costs for steel-intensive domestic oil and gas production. But China's proposed retaliatory tariffs on ethanol and propane pose the greatest threat yet to the U.S. energy trade.

The big picture: If tensions continue to escalate, Beijing might target U.S. oil and natural gas, too. While all businesses could face weaker margins if tariffs, quotas and other barriers slow global GDP growth, a trade war with China would prove especially damaging to U.S. energy producers, which have grown increasingly dependent on overseas markets.

Expert Voices

How the oil boom is changing U.S. energy policy

oil tanks in field
Oil tanks at the St. James Strategic Petroleum Reserve Terminal near Baton Rouge. Photo: Julie Dermansky / Corbis via Getty Images

The Bipartisan Budget Act passed last week directs the Department of Energy to sell 100 million barrels of oil from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve, adding to 189 million barrels already scheduled for sale by four other major laws since 2015. (The reserve held 695 million barrels at the start of 2017.)

Why it matters: If Congress is the portfolio manager of America's public assets, lawmakers are rotating out of energy security to secure funds for drug development, infrastructure and other new priorities. The shift away from four decades of scarcity-driven energy policy is likely to reduce support for vehicle efficiency, renewable fuels mandates and alternative energy spending.