Ben Geman
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Trump backs off allowing elephant trophy imports — for now

President Trump and the Interior Department announced Friday night that they're freezing plans to allow the importation of parts of elephants hunted in Zimbabwe and Zambia.

Why it matters: Plans to reverse a ban on such imports had sparked strong criticism from environmental groups and others as well.

On Friday GOP Rep. Ed Royce, who chairs the Foreign Affairs Committee, said the move to allow imports was inappropriate in light of the crisis in Zimbabwe, and that he he did not believe the country's government, given its years of corruption, can properly manage conservation programs

"When carefully regulated, conservation hunts can benefit habitats and wildlife populations. That said, this is the wrong move at the wrong time," Royce said.

Proponents of sport hunting say it can raise funds for initiatives that aid the conservation of imperiled species. Interior's Fish and Wildlife Service had said late this week that "well-regulated sport hunting as part of a sound management program can benefit certain species by providing incentives to local communities to conserve those species and by putting much-needed revenue back into conservation."

However, Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke said in a statement Friday night: "President Trump and I have talked and both believe that conservation and healthy herds are critical. As a result, in a manner compliant with all applicable laws, rules, and regulations, the issuing of permits is being put on hold as the decision is being reviewed."

Go deeper: The New York Times has more on the decision here.


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Oil employment's lagging recovery

A new presentation from the Dallas Fed has a chart that caught my eye. It shows how employment in one key part of the industry — extraction and supporting activities — has not bounced back alongside U.S. production, which fell sharply in 2015 after prices collapsed but has been moving up again for a year and heading for record levels.

Data: Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas, Bureau of Labor Statistics; Chart: Axios Visuals

Between the lines: Kunal Patel, a senior research analyst with the Dallas Fed, offered some insight in an email exchange:

"There are likely a variety of factors causing employment to not keep up with rising production. Primarily, efficiency gains (faster drill times and more production output per well) are allowing operators to produce more with less people," Patel said.

  • Some evidence: He notes that the oil rig count as November 10 was 738, which is slightly under half of the 2014 average, yet production has risen by by about a million barrels per day over the last year to the current level of roughly 9.6 million barrels per day.

"Additionally, greater use of technology is likely leading to automation of some tasks and allowing operators to be streamlined and more efficient. Big data has also allowed the industry to be more efficient," Patel said.

Go deeper: He highlighted this Bloomberg piece on industry adoption of advanced tech and data analysis, and this Dallas Morning News story on industry employment trends and technology.

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The Bonn coal phaseout pledges in context

One of the splashier announcements at the Bonn climate talks this week has been the rollout of the Powering Past Coal Alliance — a pledge by roughly 20 countries (so far) to phase out use of coal in power generation by 2030. The countries include Canada, the U.K., several other European nations, New Zealand and more.

Data: Energy Information Administration; Chart: Chris Canipe / Axios

Reality check: The chart above compares coal use in the countries that have adopted the pledge against global coal consumption in 2015 as reported by the U.S. Energy Information Administration. (It does not include pledges by some provincial governments or the U.S. states of Washington and Oregon.)

  • It shows that the pledge currently covers slightly over 2% of global coal use. The New York Times, using a separate dataset based on BP's big annual report on energy statistics, arrives at roughly the same tally.
  • The absence of dominant coal users China, the U.S., and India — and to a lesser extent Germany, Russia, Japan and some others — means that for now, the pledge only covers a small amount of the world's use of the fuel.

Why it matters: Coal currently accounts for around 40% of worldwide power generation. Cutting emissions from coal — the most carbon-intensive fossil energy source — is vital to eventually ensuring the steep global greenhouse gas cuts that scientists call necessary to avoid the most dangerous levels of global warming.

What's next: The organizers of the pledge say they plan to add many new partners ahead of the next big UN summit a year from now. Stay tuned.

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Good morning! A quick announcement for Washington-area readers: Securing America's Future Energy is hosting a timely discussion on Tuesday, Nov. 28, called "Oil's Coming Decade of Disorder."

It will explore how underinvestment in new supply, geopolitical risk and other forces affect market stability. Oh, and I'm moderating! You can register here.

Ok, let's head for the weekend . . .

Coal’s technology problem, and vice versa

Illustration: Rebecca Zisser / Axios

Here's the latest dispatch from my Axios colleague Amy Harder, who spent several days at the UN climate talks in Bonn, Germany...

The future of coal in a carbon-constrained world depends on technically feasible but prohibitively expensive technology that captures emissions from coal power plants. That technology, in turn, has become politically and inextricably linked to coal, despite the fact that most of it right now is used for purposes separate from coal.

Why it matters: Coal has been a popular topic here at a global climate conference hosted by the United Nations precisely for its unpopularity among many of the thousands of political leaders, activists and experts attending. On Thursday, over 15 nations announced plans to phase out coal by 2030 and that number is growing. Meanwhile, the capture technology itself is getting caught up in the political theater.

The UN's scientific body concluded in its most recent assessment of climate science in 2014 that if this technology isn't widely deployed, it would be 138% more expensive to keep global temperatures below a roughly 2-degree Celsius rise over the next century.

Reality check: Today, only 17 such projects exist around the world, according to a report released at the conference this week by the Global CCS Institute, which was founded in 2009 and funded by fossil fuel companies and others to more widely deploy the technology. Just two of those are capturing carbon from coal, the dirtiest fossil fuel that needs the technology the most.

Click here for the rest of the story in the Axios stream.

He would drive 500 miles: Elon Musk unveils his semi-truck

It's here: Over in the Axios stream, Steve LeVine offers info and analysis on Tesla's prototype electric semi-truck unveiled last night in California.

Buzz: One key takeaway from the ceremony is that the Tesla claims the semi-truck has 500 miles of range per charge – far more than expected.

Musk said the average truck trip is less than 250 miles, which meant that a driver could do a round trip without recharging. Still, Musk said the truck's battery pack, built into the floorboard, can be charged to 80% of capacity in 30 minutes.

Costs: Musk did not offer an overall price, but that the cost per mile would be $1.26, compared with $1.51 for a diesel-operated truck. If the semi-truck is operated in a convoy, he said, the efficiencies took the operating cost below $1 a mile, and made them cheaper than moving freight by train.

Big picture: If he is able to deliver the semi-truck as described, it seems likely to shake up the freight market just as he has the car business. Experts expect semi-truck traffic to surge in the coming decades as the global population grows to 9 billion people.

Yes, but: Don't forget that the truck prototype arrives came as Musk is confronting doubts about his ability to pull off arguably his most important project of all — the scale-up of the Model 3, the flagship mainstream-priced electric vehicle that he has touted as Tesla's route to the mass market. Production has ramped up far slower that Tesla initially forecast.

Oil employment's lagging recovery

Chart from the Energy Slideshow updated by the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas on Nov. 13, 2017

A new presentation from the Dallas Fed (which puts out lots of interesting oil-and-gas data analysis) has a chart that caught my eye.

It shows how employment in one key part of the industry — extraction and supporting activities — has not bounced back alongside U.S. production, which fell sharply in 2015 after prices collapsed but has been moving up again for a year and heading for record levels.

What's going on: Kunal Patel, a senior research analyst with the Dallas Fed, offered some insight in an email exchange with your Generate host...

"There are likely a variety of factors causing employment to not keep up with rising production. Primarily, efficiency gains (faster drill times and more production output per well) are allowing operators to produce more with less people," Patel said.

  • Some evidence: He notes that the oil rig count as of November 10 was 738, which is slightly under half of the 2014 average, yet production has risen by by about a million barrels per day over the last year to the current level of roughly 9.6 million barrels per day.

Tech's influence: "Additionally, greater use of technology is likely leading to automation of some tasks and allowing operators to be streamlined and more efficient. Big data has also allowed the industry to be more efficient," Patel said.

Go deeper: He highlighted this Bloomberg piece on industry adoption of advanced tech and data analysis, and this Dallas Morning News story on industry employment trends and technology.

The Bonn coal phaseout pledges in context

Coal consumption in nations that have pledged to phase out coal-fired power compared to the rest of the world. Data: EIA; Chart: Chris Canipe / Axios

Let's return to Bonn and coal for a moment. One of the splashier announcements at the climate talks has been the rollout of the Powering Past Coal Alliance — a pledge by roughly 20 countries (so far) to phase out use of coal in power generation by 2030.

  • The countries include Canada, the U.K., several other European nations, New Zealand and more.

Reality check: The chart above compares coal use in the countries that have adopted the pledge against global coal consumption in 2015 as reported by the U.S. Energy Information Administration. (It does not include pledges by some provincial governments or the U.S. states of Washington and Oregon.)

  • It shows that the pledge currently covers slightly over 2% of global coal use. The New York Times, using a separate dataset based on BP's big annual report on energy statistics, arrives at roughly the same tally.
  • The absence of dominant coal users China, the U.S., and India — and to a lesser extent Germany, Russia, Japan and some others — means that for now, the pledge only covers a small amount of the world's use of the fuel.

Why it matters: Coal currently accounts for around 40% of worldwide power generation. Cutting emissions from coal — the most carbon-intensive fossil energy source — is vital to eventually ensuring the steep global greenhouse gas cuts that scientists call necessary to avoid the most dangerous levels of global warming.

What's next: The organizers of the pledge say they plan to add many new partners ahead of the next big UN summit a year from now. Stay tuned.

Oil-and-gas notes: LNG, Keystone spill, Aramco IPO

Divestment: Bloomberg looks at the ramifications of yesterday's news that Norway's massive sovereign wealth fund plans to dump oil and gas holdings, noting that the proposal "rattled equity markets."

  • From their story: "Norway's proposal to sell off $35 billion in oil and gas stocks brings sudden and unparalleled heft to a once-grassroots movement to enlist investors in the fight against climate change."

OPEC decision: Via Reuters, "The world will still have a surplus of oil by end-March next year, Saudi Arabia's energy minister said on Thursday, signaling a willingness to extend output cuts when OPEC meets at the end of November on whether to extend caps well into 2018."

Saudi Aramco IPO: New York? London? Why not both? Business Insider chatted with Mihir Kapadia, CEO of Sun Global Investments, who believes Saudi Arabia's state-owned oil giant could use multiple exchanges for the massive IPO tentatively planned for next year.

Curveball: A new report from Columbia University's Center on Global Energy Policy explores how the global LNG market has been evolving in unexpected ways. It looks at the unexpected emergence of a group of a dozen countries — such as Egypt, Thailand, Pakistan — as new or growing LNG importers.

  • Why it matters: "Largely flying under the radar, the aggregate impact of these emerging importers has been the most important factor keeping the physical LNG market tighter than expected since 2014, absorbing an extraordinary amount of global supply growth and keeping the long-awaited global LNG surplus at bay," the study notes.

Spill: A leak from the existing Keystone oil pipeline spilled 210,000 gallons of oil — or roughly 5,000 barrels worth — in South Dakota, according to a suite of press reports.

  • One reason it matters: Via the Washington Post, "The spill comes just days before a crucial decision next Monday by the Public Service Commission in Nebraska over whether to grant a permit for a new, long-delayed sister pipeline called Keystone XL, which has been mired in controversy for several years. Both are owned by Calgary-based TransCanada."

Trump administration news and notes

Pruitt on the record: The controversial EPA administrator chatted with the Washington Post. He said, among other things, that Trump has weighed in personally on Superfund policy.

  • "He's actually presented some things to me on the Superfund sites on how to improve our approach there. It was very instructive," Pruitt said.
  • Speaking of Pruitt: via The Hill, he's expected to face public grillings from lawmakers twice in the next two months when he appears before separate congressional committees.

Trouble: NBC News reports that opposition from two GOP senators means "serious jeopardy" for Trump's nominee to be the nation's top chemicals regulator at EPA.

Zinke under the microscope: "Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke failed to properly document his travel, the agency's watchdog said Thursday, preventing it from determining whether he had violated government rules," Politico reports.

Still a mystery: Judith Garber, a senior State Department official, told the UN climate conference in Bonn yesterday that the U.S. remains "open to the possibility" of staying in the Paris deal under "more favorable" conditions. But she offered no hint as to what those conditions might be.

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Trucks are fueling the world's oil demand

Tesla is hardly the only player in the nascent electric truck market — as Bloomberg notes — as big companies like Daimler and Cummins are moving toward commercialization.

Why electric trucks matter: Trucks, especially big rigs, are a small percentage of vehicles on the road but use lots of oil. (Check out the chart above, reconstructed from the International Energy Agency's new World Energy Outlook 2017.)

Data: IEA World Energy Outlook 2017, OECD/IEA; Chart: Andrew Witherspoon / Axios

In what amounts to IEA's base case (a model of existing and officially announced policies), oil demand for trucking swells to 20 million barrels per day in 2040, led by that sharp increase you see in diesel demand for heavy-duty freight.

  • It's one reason, though hardly the only one, why IEA does not forecast a peak in global crude oil demand through the end of their analysis period in 2040.

The bottom line: Widespread deployment of electric heavy-duty trucking — alongside other alternative fuels and stronger fuel efficiency mandates for diesel-powered rigs — could alter the trajectory of oil demand in coming decade if Musk and other players can make it cost-effective.

Go deeper: Check out a preview of Tesla's electric truck, which is scheduled to be unveiled today.

Featured

15 nations announce plan for 2030 coal phaseout

The coal-burning Longview Power Plant in Maidsville, W.Va. Photo: Michael Virtanen / AP

Big news from the UN climate talks in Bonn, Germany, today is that multiple countries are forming a coalition to phase out power generation from coal before 2030.

Why it matters: Coal is the most carbon-intensive fossil fuel, and cutting emissions from coal-fired power generation is key to driving global greenhouse gas output downward in the future.

Ganging up: "At least 15 countries have joined an international alliance to phase out coal from power generation before 2030, delegates at U.N. climate talks in Bonn said on Thursday," via Reuters.

The nations: Britain, Canada, Denmark, Finland, Italy, France, the Netherlands, Portugal, Belgium, Switzerland, New Zealand, Ethiopia, Chile, Mexico and the Marshall Islands, according to the story.

Yes, but: The world's biggest coal-consuming nations — notably China, the U.S. and India — are not currently part of the initiative.

The other side: George David Banks, a top White House adviser who is in Bonn this week, said the administration is considering forming a "clean coal alliance," adding to comments Energy secretary Rick Perry made recently in Africa.

"The administration is interested in the idea and would like to explore exactly what that means," Banks told Axios' Amy Harder and other reporters at a briefing Wednesday.

Gritty details:

  • Banks said the following countries would probably be interested: Japan, Australia, India, Vietnam and some African countries.
  • He said the alliance would focus on first and foremost on technology known as "high efficiency, low emission," which offer gains of up to 30% less carbon emissions compared to older plants, according to the World Coal Association.
  • Looking at more expensive — but more effective — technology that captures up to 90% of carbon emitted from a coal plant would be another focus.
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Good morning and welcome back! A reminder that Sinocism's Bill Bishop, one of the smartest minds on China, has moved his weekly newsletter to Axios. The next edition lands tomorrow, so sign up here to get this must-read commentary and analysis on the most important U.S.-China news of the week.

Ok, here we go . . .

Breaking in Bonn: Nations announce 2030 coal phaseout

Big news from the UN climate talks in Bonn, Germany, today is that multiple countries are forming a coalition to phase out power generation from coal before 2030.

Ganging up: "At least 15 countries have joined an international alliance to phase out coal from power generation before 2030, delegates at U.N. climate talks in Bonn said on Thursday," via Reuters.

The nations: Britain, Canada, Denmark, Finland, Italy, France, the Netherlands, Portugal, Belgium, Switzerland, New Zealand, Ethiopia, Chile, Mexico and the Marshall Islands, according to the story.

Why it matters: Coal is the most carbon-intensive fossil fuel, and cutting emissions from coal-fired power generation is key to driving global greenhouse gas output downward in the future.

Yes, but: The world's biggest coal-consuming nations — notably China, the U.S. and India — are not currently part of the initiative.

The other side: George David Banks, a top White House adviser who is in Bonn this week, said the administration is considering forming a "clean coal alliance," adding to comments Energy secretary Rick Perry made recently in Africa.

"The administration is interested in the idea and would like to explore exactly what that means," Banks told Axios' Amy Harder and other reporters at a briefing Wednesday.

Gritty details:

  • Banks said the following countries would probably be interested: Japan, Australia, India, Vietnam and some African countries.
  • He said the alliance would focus on first and foremost on technology known as "high efficiency, low emission," which offer gains of up to 30% less carbon emissions compared to older plants, according to the World Coal Association.
  • Looking at more expensive — but more effective — technology that captures up to 90% of carbon emitted from a coal plant would be another focus.

Reality checking Trump's energy adviser

And, here's more from Bonn with a slice of Amy's latest dispatch from the UN climate talks...

Driving the news: Speaking at the same Wednesday briefing referenced in the top story, Banks sat down with a small group of reporters to emphasize that climate change is a priority to the Trump administration, despite what actions and rhetoric may indicate otherwise.

Here are the highlights — and reality checks — on what Banks says this administration is doing:

  • Remaining a party to the United Nations' underlying climate treaty, the Framework Convention on Climate Change. Reality check: This is technically true, but a negative — not withdrawing from this treaty — does not equate a positive — prioritizing climate change.
  • Promoting exports of liquified natural gas, which burns 50% fewer carbon emissions than coal. Reality check: This is true. President Obama laid the groundwork.
  • Promoting research and development in the budget. Reality check: Along with most budgets save for the Pentagon, the administration is proposing to slash the Energy Department's R&D budget across the energy spectrum.
  • Banks wouldn't comment on whether the Environmental Protection Agency will not just repeal but replace regulations addressing climate change. He deferred questions to EPA, which has said only generally it acknowledges that current law requires it to address carbon emissions somehow. Reality check: Whatever happens, it won't be much.

Get ready for Elon Musk's electric semi-truck

Giphy

Ahead of the news: My Axios colleague Steve LeVine previews Elon Musk's Thursday night rollout of an electric semi-truck prototype with self-driving technology, and notes it's a move to capture a piece of one of the most promising sectors of robotization.

Here's more from Steve...

According to one estimate, its enormous battery could make it double the price of a standard diesel-propelled vehicle. But Musk has said he already has customers waiting for the vehicle.

The jobs impact: There are about 3.5 million truckers in the U.S., in addition to about 5 million workers in other parts of the industry. Many of those jobs are threatened in a future of autonomous freight transportation.

Much is made of the future of self-driving, but the biggest early impact — with huge money on the line — is likely to be cargo trucks, and not passenger vehicles.

  • The U.S. trucking industry had $676 billion in revenue last year, according to the American Trucking Association, a sum that experts expect to surge over the coming decades with the global population boom to 9 billion people.
  • Numerous startups in Silicon Valley and elsewhere are hoping to capture that flow of revenue.

Click here for the rest of Steve's story, including a look at battery costs and range estimates.

Why trucks are pivotal to oil's future

Comparison of petroleum demand for trucking in 2016 and 2040. Data: World Energy Outlook 2017, OECD/IEA; Chart: Andrew Witherspoon / Axios

Let's spend a little more time on electric trucking. Bloomberg notes that Tesla is hardly the only player in this nascent market as big companies like Daimler and Cummins are moving toward commercialization.

Why electric trucks matter: Trucks, especially big rigs, are a small percentage of vehicles on the road but use lots of oil. (Check out the chart above, reconstructed from the International Energy Agency's new World Energy Outlook 2017.)

In what amounts to IEA's base case (a model of existing and officially announced policies), oil demand for trucking swells to 20 million barrels per day in 2040, led by that sharp increase you see in diesel demand for heavy-duty freight.

  • It's one reason, though hardly the only one, why IEA does not forecast a peak in global crude oil demand through the end of their analysis period in 2040.

The bottom line: Widespread deployment of electric heavy-duty trucking — alongside other alternative fuels and stronger fuel efficiency mandates for diesel-powered rigs — could alter the trajectory of oil demand in coming decade if Musk and other players can make it cost-effective.

Congress and policy notes: FERC, Arctic drilling, lobbying

DOE personnel: Trump is nominating a senior official with the nuclear energy industry's main lobbying group to serve as the Energy Department's liaison to Congress, the White House announced Wednesday evening.

  • He's tapping Melissa F. Burnison, the director of federal programs at the Nuclear Energy Institute, to be DOE's assistant secretary for congressional and intergovernmental affairs. Before joining NEI, she was a senior adviser at DOE and worked on Capitol Hill as a House Natural Resources Committee aide.

FERC and coal: Utility Dive has the clearest look yet at how interim Federal Energy Regulatory Commission chairman Neil Chatterjee hopes to throw a "lifeline" to coal-fired and nuclear power plants as it grapples with Energy secretary Rick Perry's push for new wholesale power market rules that aid those sectors.

From their story:

  • "Chatterjee told Utility Dive the commission could issue a 'show cause' order directing RTOs and ISOs to update their tariffs to keep plants online that provide 'necessary resilience attributes,' or show why they should not be required to do so," they report, referring to regional transmission organizations and independent system operators.

Drilling: "Oil and gas drilling in Alaska's Arctic National Wildlife Refuge moved closer Wednesday as a key Senate panel approved a bill to open the remote refuge to energy exploration," AP reports.

Latest in lobbying: A few new files of note in the Lobbying Disclosure Act database...

  • Autos: Fiat Chrysler's U.S. subsidiary has tapped Holland & Knight for representation on fuel economy and vehicle emissions.
  • Utilities: The power company NRG Energy has brought on Lot Sixteen to lobby on a suite of topics including tax and infrastructure policy.
  • Chemicals: The American Chemistry Council, a major industry trade group, is now represented by Bold Strategies for work on chemical, energy, health care and tax policy, a filing shows.
  • Petroleum: Energy Transfer Equity has hired Capitol Tax Partners for work on "tax issues related to oil, natural gas, and petroleum product pipelines."

More drilling: Platts reporter Brian Scheid reports via Twitter that the Interior Department's draft proposal to open far more offshore areas to oil-and-gas exploration in coming years has been pushed back until mid-December.

  • Background: Trump administration officials are planning to rewrite an Obama-era plan keeping the Atlantic and Pacific coasts and Arctic waters off limits for new leasing and development.

How tech giants fare on conflict mineral mining

Methodology: The highest possible score is 120 points, but extra credit is possible. Companies are scored based on their commitment to a conflict-free mineral sourcing policy, outside audits, their support for communities in the Congo, and advocacy; Data: The Enough Project; Chart: Chris Canipe / Axios

Axios tech writer Ina Fried has an interesting mining-related item...

Supply chains under the microscope: The advocacy group Enough put out a list of the tech and jewelry companies doing the most and least around use of conflict minerals — things like gold, tin, tungsten, and tantalum that are mined in violence-torn parts of the Congo.

  • Tech giants Apple, Google, Microsoft and HP were at the top of the group's list, with retailers like Costco, Sears, Nieman-Marcus and Walmart at the bottom.

Not all tech companies good: While the leaders were all big names in tech, a number of companies got low marks, including Samsung and Toshiba.

Not all retailers bad: Similarly, while the lowest marks went to companies that sell jewelry, some such companies got higher scores, including Signet and Tiffany & Co.

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Good morning and welcome back! I learned something on the internet: the Saturday Night Fever soundtrack was released 40 years ago today.

Let's get into today's newsletter with some music that's way better than the mockery of the era would suggest . . .

Parsing Schwarzenegger's advice

Let's spend some more time with my colleague Amy Harder's reporting yesterday on Arnold Schwarzenegger telling activists that they need to talk about health and pollution, not climate change.

ICYMI: "You can have the best product in the world, but if you don't know how to communicate it, you have nothing," Schwarzenegger, the former GOP governor of California, said at the UN climate talks in Germany.

Reality check: It's tempting to think that the climate movement's struggles are a problem of messaging that can be solved by tweaking the presentation.

  • But in reality environmentalists and their allies have long done what Schwarzenegger suggests, and tried lots of other messaging approaches too.

A few examples...

  • In 2014, President Obama promoted EPA climate rules for power plants in remarks at Children's National Medical Center, where he said the policy would help reduce asthma attacks and heart problems.
  • In 2010, when then-Senator John Kerry was crafting cap-and-trade legislation, he said, "What we are talking about is a jobs bill. It is not a climate bill. It is a jobs bill, and it is a clean air bill. It is a national security, energy independence bill."
  • The main coalition of environmental groups pushing cap-and-trade legislation in 2009-2010 was called "Clean Energy Works" – a nod to the economic opportunities of expanding low-carbon energy industries.
The bottom line: Making seismic changes in emissions levels and energy policy worldwide is hard. It means confronting sticky challenges that go far beyond finding the right messaging — and lots of people have spent years trying to crack the PR code.

Oil news and views: Russian mystery, shale, Saudi game changer

Permian Basin oil production levels depicted in the EIA's monthly Drilling Productivity Report

Latest shale numbers: The federal Energy Information Administration's latest analysis of U.S. shale oil production forecasts a rise of 80,000 barrels per day next month to 6.17 million, with the Permian Basin again leading the way (check out the chart above).

Russia uncertain on future cuts: Via Bloomberg, "OPEC has yet to convince Russia that it's necessary to reach an agreement to extend oil-output cuts at a meeting in Vienna later this month, as officials and oil bosses in Moscow still haven't decided how long the production deal should last."

  • To be sure: "Russian domestic oil producers are committed to a global deal to cut oil output, the Energy Ministry said on Wednesday after the energy minister discussed the matter with company officials," Reuters reports.

One big question: A guest column in the Financial Times explores the dueling market forces of shale supply (which moderates prices) and the political upheaval in Saudi Arabia (which has lately pushed prices up).

"[T]he oil market and energy prices have entered a new period of political uncertainty despite the near-certainty of higher shale production," writes Mohamed El-Erian, the chief economic adviser at Allianz.

Going forward, a lot depends whether what has been billed as an anti-corruption crackdown leads to better governance and faster economic reforms, which will push prices gradually lower again, he writes, or whether the crackdown is a "leading indicator of political and geopolitical uncertainty."

Don't forget: The Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee will consider legislation today that would open the coastal plain of Alaska's Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to oil exploration.

Bonn update: looking at America's non-federal climate pledges

Over in the Axios stream, Amy also unpacks something that's getting lots of press from the Bonn talks — the pledges by states and cities and other non-federal actors to cut carbon amid the White House decision to leave the Paris deal.

Behind the news: Michael Bloomberg and California Gov. Jerry Brown are leading a group that just released a report stating if these non-federal entities were a country, their economy would be the third largest in the world. It also said the group represents nearly half of all Americans and more than half of the U.S. GDP.

The group largely represents America's coasts, where a lot of people live in big cities, but that's not where most of the greenhouse gases are emitted from coal, oil and natural gas production. The group represents up to 35% of America's total greenhouse gas emissions, according to the report's appendix data. That means this group represents roughly less than 5% of the world's emissions, despite comprising an economy that's the world's third-largest.

  • Why it matters: The 35% figure — not highlighted as part of the report's release — underscores why federal action is essential in making sizable cuts in greenhouse gases.

Big picture: "Diplomats began wrapping up negotiations on advancing the Paris climate accord Tuesday at a global conference in Germany, setting the stage for political leaders to fly in and provide a final shot of momentum," CBS reports.

Top U.S. diplomat stays home: Amy reports from Bonn that the senior State Department official who was supposed to be America's lead climate negotiator at the UN talks won't be at the event. The department said Tom Shannon isn't coming because of a family emergency and Judith Garber, a lower level State Department official, will represent the U.S.

U.S. petroleum now a trade "juggernaut"

U.S. trade balance in petroleum and non-petroleum products and services over time. Chart: S&P Global Platts Analytics

Big picture: "The U.S. energy industry has become an economic juggernaut with regards its contribution to the U.S. macro trade picture. Its contributions include reduced oil imports, increased oil exports (both product and crude), increased natural gas and LNG exports, and increased NGL exports," concludes a newly available report from S&P Global Platts Analytics.

Why it matters: The report takes stock of how the U.S. petroleum production and export surge has influenced the country's global fiscal position more broadly.

By the numbers: The wealth of data in the report includes a look at the trade balance in petroleum compared to other goods and services (see the chart above).

  • "While the overall deficit has remained large, the shift on the oil vs. non-oil side has been substantial. In 2011, the monthly deficit in petroleum ran about $30 billion, but has since narrowed to only $5.8 billion."
  • "Annual petroleum imports have been reduced in nominal value from $439.3 billion in 2011 to $186.3 billion, annualized in 2017, or -58%, while exports have grown from $113.6 billion in 2011 to $116.6 billion, annualized in 2017, or 2.6%."

Go deeper: Read the whole report here.

On my screen: FERC, awkward energy marriage, lobbying

What's next for FERC, part 1: A new note from ClearView Energy Partners games out the future of DOE's push for the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission to write rules that boost compensation for coal and nuclear plants. The clock is ticking for some kind of action in mid-December.

  • One topline is that they see a 55% chance that FERC takes some kind of action that somewhat extends the regulatory process and puts it on a path to finalize a new rule by mid-2018.
  • What's much dicier is whether interim FERC chairman Neil Chatterjee can successfully win action on a nearer-term "lifeline" for at-risk plants. While a "limited program with tight criteria" could potentially get a majority vote, there are plenty of factors acting against this option, including the upcoming arrival of two new commissioners and legal vulnerabilities that a fast action would face, they note.

What's next for FERC, part 2: Via Utility Dive, "The Department of Energy is 'confident' the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission will 'dutifully consider and adopt a rule that will address price formation in the electric markets,' a senior DOE official told state utility regulators."

Lobbying: A few filings that have popped up in the Lobbying Disclosure Act database recently...

  • Pipelines: The Interstate Natural Gas Association of America has brought on Bracewell.
  • Finance: Ygrene Energy Fund, Inc. has hired the Smith-Free Group.
  • Electricity: The group Protect Our Power has brought on the Bockorny Group for representation on grid resilience, a hot topic these days amid the DOE push for new FERC regs.
  • Oil-and-gas: Frontera Resources has tapped Cornerstone Government Affairs for work on "exploration and production matters in Eastern Europe."

Relationship advice: A piece in Foreign Affairs criticizes the Trump administration's efforts to bolster coal-fired and nuclear power at the same time, exemplified by the Energy Department push for FERC to write wholesale power rules that would aid plants at risk of retirement.

"As the largest source of clean energy in the United States, nuclear energy will be crucial to limiting global greenhouse gas emissions and confronting climate change. Yet because the Trump administration links its support for nuclear to that for fossil fuels such as coal, it cedes any appearance of responsible environmental stewardship and strains strategically important relationships," writes Varun Sivaram and Madison Freeman.

Apocalyptic headline of the day

Clear and present danger: A new Bloomberg story about the prospect of Trump administration imposing new penalties on solar panel imports is titled: "Cheese and Bourbon Face Risk of Backlash From U.S. Solar Tariff."

  • They report that if the White House decides to impose new tariffs, "Wisconsin cheese and Kentucky whiskey may pay the price."
  • The story explains that tariffs the White House is weighing would likely prompt World Trade Organization challenges and open the door to retaliatory measures against U.S. goods.
  • "If we tell the WTO to shove it, China may target Kentucky bourbon and Wisconsin dairy, creating natural opponents to the tariffs in Mitch McConnell and Paul Ryan," said Clark Packard of the R Street Institute tells Bloomberg. The free-market think tank opposes tariffs.

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How oil's stranglehold may be eroded

A self-driving truck in Las Vegas. Photo: John Locher / AP

A new report from IHS Markit looks at the combination of the rise of electric vehicles, autonomy and "mobility as a service" trends such as ride-sharing — factors that will erode oil's stranglehold on transportation fuels by 2040.

One possible future: Add it all up and you have a "convergence of technological, political, and economic forces could fundamentally alter the automotive ecosystem." They summarize some of the findings in a blog post, and here are a few key points:

  • "By 2040, oil will still be a big business but will have lost its monopoly as a transport fuel. Gasoline and diesel demand from cars will peak in the mid-2020s, although the growth of hybrid vehicles, which will still have a gasoline engine, will temper the demand slowdown."
  • "More stringent fuel economy and emission standards, rather than EVs, will have the most significant impact on slowing oil demand."
  • By 2040, vehicle miles traveled will have grown 65% to 11 billion miles per year in China, India, Europe and the U.S. (the major markets they analyzed for the report).
  • Again, no peak: But given the various factors affecting global oil demand, their baseline scenario forecasts a "plateau" in global oil demand by 2040 at around 115 million barrels per day, but not a peak per se.

Why it matters: The report is another data point as policymakers and analysts try and gauge the future of oil demand and mobility.

Yes, but: Their outlook for EV's is more pessimistic than what another consultancy, Bloomberg New Energy Finance, has predicted. IHS sees EVs accounting for over 30% of new vehicle sales in the big markets they looked at.

  • In contrast, BNEF sees electric vehicles comprising 54% of new vehicle sales in 2040.

Go deeper: The Houston Chronicle has a detailed piece on the new report here.

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Takeaways from the IEA's World Energy Outlook

The IEA's World Energy Outlook for 2017 revealed that total global energy demand now rises more slowly than in the past, but still increases by 30% between now and 2040 under the New Policies model, which looks at nations' existing and officially announced policies.

Data: IEA World Energy Outlook 2017, OECD/IEA; Chart: Andrew Witherspoon / Axios

Other takeaways:

Climate change: Global carbon emissions from energy (which is the main source) increase slightly between now and 2040 in the New Policies scenario.

  • Why it matters: It shows that absent more aggressive efforts to curb greenhouse gases, the world will fail badly to achieve the steep emissions cuts needed to hold the eventual rise in global temperatures to 2 degrees celsius above preindustrial levels — the goal of the Paris agreement aiming to avoid some of the most dangerous climatic changes.

A changing mix: Check out the chart above. It shows the sources of past and future emissions growth and in the process illustrates the seismic shifts underway in global energy.

  • Emissions growth from coal is headed sharply downward as demand stagnates, thanks to renewables and gas playing a more prominent role in the global electricity and industry mix. That's why gas, while emitting much lower carbon than coal on a per-unit basis, becomes a bigger source of incremental emissions growth.
  • Oil becomes a more prominent source of relative emissions growth, thanks to persistent demand for transport and petrochemical production.

No oil peak: Global demand for oil keeps rising in the New Policies scenario, albeit slowing down after the mid-2020s, reaching almost 105 million barrels per day in 2040.

  • Greater auto efficiency and the rise of electric vehicles is more than offset by oil demand from petrochemical production, trucking, aviation and shipping.

Renewables rise: Renewables meet 40% of the growth of energy demand, signaling the huge changes underway in the electricity sector as gas, wind, and solar have gained as coal stagnates.

  • "Renewables capture two-thirds of global investment in power plants as they become, for many countries, the least-cost source of new generation," IEA notes.

Don't forget: Standard disclaimers apply here because, well, it's the future we're talking about. And indeed IEA looks at multiple pathways, including a "sustainable development" scenario that's far more climate-friendly, which we touched on in the Axios stream last night.

Go deeper: Read the detailed executive summary here.