Oct 16, 2019

Elizabeth Warren's plan to pressure Big Oil into breaking up

Photo: Nicholas Kamm/AFP/Getty Images

Warren's campaign says one of her existing policy proposals would create pressure on major oil-and-gas companies to splinter.

The intrigue: They pointed to her legislation that would require detailed disclosures from publicly traded companies about climate change.

  • Under her bill, filings with securities regulators would describe risks to the company from policies that would force steep emissions cuts consistent with holding global temperature rise to 1.5°C.

Why it matters: The campaign argues that this would lead to so-called stranded oil and natural gas reserves that would create big financial liabilities for energy companies.

Yes, but: The idea of stranded assets is controversial and beyond the scope of this blurb. And achieving emissions cuts consistent with 1.5°C is looking quite unlikely.

  • But those huge caveats aside, the campaign argues that this risk would push companies to break apart.

What they're saying: "If oil companies are required to disclose this information to investors, there will be enormous investor pressure on these companies to break up so that the non-fossil fuel parts of these companies would not be taken down by likely losses in the fossil fuel parts," Warren's campaign said.

The state of play: Warren touched on this goal in passing during Tuesday's Democratic debate when she was asked about her goal of breaking up tech giants.

  • "We need to enforce our antitrust laws, break up these giant companies that are dominating, Big Tech, Big Pharma, Big Oil, all of them," said Warren.

The bottom line: Warren is now the co-frontrunner with Joe Biden. It's another sign of the aggressive posture Warren has staked out.

Go deeper: Elizabeth Warren wants a climate-friendly SEC

Go deeper

Coronavirus dashboard

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  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of 3 a.m. ET: 5,410,228 — Total deaths: 345,105 — Total recoveries — 2,169,005Map.
  2. U.S.: Total confirmed cases as of 3 a.m. ET: 1,643,499 — Total deaths: 97,722 — Total recoveries: 366,736 — Total tested: 14,163,915Map.
  3. World: White House announces travel restrictions on Brazil, coronavirus hotspot in Southern Hemisphere Over 100 coronavirus cases in Germany tied to single day of church services — Boris Johnson backs top aide amid reports that he broke U.K. lockdown while exhibiting symptoms.
  4. Public health: Officials are urging Americans to wear masks headed into Memorial Day weekend Report finds "little evidence" coronavirus under control in most statesHurricanes, wildfires, the flu could strain COVID-19 response
  5. Economy: White House economic adviser Kevin Hassett says it's possible the unemployment rate could still be in double digits by November's election — Public employees brace for layoffs.
  6. Federal government: Trump attacks a Columbia University study that suggests earlier lockdown could have saved 36,000 American lives.
  7. What should I do? Hydroxychloroquine questions answeredTraveling, asthma, dishes, disinfectants and being contagiousMasks, lending books and self-isolatingExercise, laundry, what counts as soap — Pets, moving and personal healthAnswers about the virus from Axios expertsWhat to know about social distancingHow to minimize your risk.
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Updated 2 hours ago - Politics & Policy

U.S. coronavirus updates

Data: The Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins; Map: Andrew Witherspoon/Axios. This graphic includes "probable deaths" that New York City began reporting on April 14.

The CDC is warning of potentially "aggressive rodent behavior" amid a rise in reports of rat activity in several areas, as the animals search further for food while Americans stay home more during the coronavirus pandemic.

By the numbers: More than 97,700 people have died from COVID-19 and over 1.6 million have tested positive in the U.S. Over 366,700 Americans have recovered and more than 14.1 million tests have been conducted.

World coronavirus updates

Data: The Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins; Map: Axios Visuals

Japan's economy minister outlined plans on Monday to end the nationwide state of emergency as the number of new novel coronavirus cases continues to decline to fewer than 50 a day, per Bloomberg. Japan has reported 16,550 cases and 820 deaths.

By the numbers: Over 5.4 million people have tested positive for the virus as of Monday, and more than 2.1 million have recovered. The U.S. has reported the most cases in the world (over 1.6 million from 13.7 million tests). The U.K. is reporting over 36,800 deaths from the coronavirus — the most fatalities outside the U.S.