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Good morning. Welcome back! It has been a while since I mentioned that Axios had a bunch of cool, informative and breezy newsletters on tech, finance, health care and more. You can sign up here. One other thing: Big thanks to Amy Harder and several other Axios colleagues for their contributions to today's newsletter. Ok let's dive in . . .

The campaign for Paris


We're watching an important dynamic in light of reports last night, including ours, that White House momentum is shifting toward an exit from the Paris climate pact — the prospect of a NAFTA redux.

What we're hearing: Sources tell Axios that advocates for the U.S. staying in the Paris deal are upping their efforts to have heads of state directly weigh in with President Donald Trump in favor of remaining, similar to how the leaders of Mexico and Canada reportedly called Trump and persuaded him to renegotiate instead of terminate NAFTA.

  • "One of the things we're doing as the green group contingency is to talk to other countries to make sure to tell them that now is the time to make your voice heard," an environmentalist said.

What they hope: To shift the momentum back towards staying in the Paris pact.

  • "It's not over until it's over when it comes to Trump," a longtime global climate diplomacy insider told Axios.

Exclusive from Amy’s notebook: Data shows coal decline

Department of Labor, Mine Safety and Health Administration; Chart: Andrew Witherspoon / Axios

Coal mining jobs dropped almost 8% in the first quarter of 2017 compared with the same period last year, according to Labor Department data obtained by Axios.

Reality check: The coal industry in the U.S. is not going to have a big and lasting comeback. Any upward tick will be peripheral and temporary, and mostly driven by market trends like natural gas prices and coal demand in China, not Trump's rhetoric and his efforts to repeal Obama-era environmental rules.

What they're saying: "I have no illusion we'll suddenly go back to the production we were at five years ago," Colin Marshall, CEO of Cloud Peak Energy, one of the biggest coal producers in the U.S., said in a recent interview with Axios.

The race to save ARPA-E


In private Capitol Hill meetings and public advocacy, cleantech companies and universities are lobbying to preserve an Energy Department program that funds research into cutting-edge technologies.

Driving the news: A fight between the White House and Congress over the fate of the Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy, a program with bipartisan backing that Trump's fiscal year 2018 budget plan would zero out.

  • Round one: The new federal spending deal that runs through September is a win for ARPA-E backers, providing $306 million, which is actually a slight boost over current funding. But the battle for 2018 money remains.

Going public: A letter out today from over 100 companies, universities and groups to top congressional appropriators to provide at least $325 million, arguing the program provides a "tremendous competitive advantage to our nation."

Behind the scenes: Energy company leaders, researchers and university officials have been meeting with their delegations urging support.

  • CEOs with the American Energy Innovation Council, a coalition of big companies and advocates including Bill Gates, have privately urged key appropriators that ARPA-E and related programs are "critical to U.S. long-term energy technology competitiveness and U.S. economic growth," a source with the group said. More meetings are expected as the FY 2018 fight heats up in coming months.

Even more ARPA-E

There's a lot of angst and confusion over what exactly is going on. According to multiple press accounts and your host's own reporting, funding for some projects approved under existing appropriations has been halted by Trump's Energy Department personnel.

High-level attention: It's something that's on the radar screen of GOP Sen. Lisa Murkowski, who heads the Energy and Natural Resources Committee and is also a senior member of the Appropriations Committee.

What they're saying: Murkowski said yesterday that she's been in touch with staff about the fate of the projects. The upshot of what she said is that the projects are not scuttled.

  • "It means that until they get this release on the authorization to send the monies out, that they are just on hold. It is my understanding that we have not lost those projects, but there is kind of a process issue that we are dealing with right now," she said.

Climate change and Saudi Aramco’s IPO

Not the usual fare on the mother of all IPOs: An essay in The Economist Intelligence Unit makes the case that Saudi Aramco's massive initial public offering next year has a climate change "upside."

The take: Ben Caldecott, director of the Sustainable Finance Programme at the University of Oxford, says:

  • Cash raised can help Saudi Arabia, the world's 10th-largest GHG emitter, invest in renewables to help move its "inefficient and heavily polluting economy" off of oil.
  • Aramco's reserves are low-carbon intensity compared to some of the hard to reach, expensive holdings of international oil companies (IOCs) like BP and Shell. Investors can cut exposure to IOCs by shifting to Aramco. This should have a double impact: It will make it harder for IOCs to raise money for costly and environmentally harmful projects, and it should "jolt" the IOCs to diversify away from fossil fuels.
  • If Aramco is listed on an exchange with high standards, like the London Stock Exchange, it will pressure the company and the kingdom for more transparency and accountability — it might even push Aramco into implementing climate risk disclosure recommendations.
IPO details: Reuters has the latest on the planned Aramco IPO.

Lightning round

Utilities: Power giant Southern Company reported $658 million profit in the first quarter of 2017 on Wednesday.

Solar: The Wall Street Journal reports that the Securities and Exchange Commission is probing whether solar energy companies are "masking how many customers they're losing."

Regulations: Bloomberg reports that a congressional vote to kill one of Obama's climate regulations could hinge on an unrelated ethanol dispute.

Tesla: Axios' Steve LeVine has a smart look at the difficulties confronting Elon Musk's vision of underground tunnels, which would carry self-driving cars, to ease traffic.

More Tesla: Recode sets the stage for the company's first-quarter earnings call this evening.

One fun thing

Climate activist Bill McKibben hasn't read the scientific paper recently penned about his influence in the climate debate, but he writes to Axios' Amy Harder that it makes him "feel suitably ancient to be the subject of academic inquiry..."

For the record: The paper's title is "Bill McKibben's Effect on the US Climate Change Debate: Shifting the Institutional Environment Through Radical Flank Effects."

Thanks for reading! Oh, and a little going away present: my Axios colleague Stef W. Kight has a handy guide to the blowback over New York Times' columnist Bret Stephens' piece on climate change. Your confidential tips and feedback are welcome at See you tomorrow.


Police discover trailer with 8 dead in San Antonio

Eric Gay / AP

AP/San Antonio: "Eight people were found dead in a tractor-trailer loaded with at least 30 others outside a Walmart store in Texas' stifling summer heat in what police are calling a horrific human trafficking case. The driver was arrested."
  • "Twenty other people in extremely critical or serious condition and eight more with lesser injuries including heat stroke and dehydration were found inside the truck, which didn't have a working air conditioning system despite blistering temperatures that topped 100 degrees."
  • "A person from the truck initially approached a Walmart employee in a parking lot and asked for water late Saturday night or early Sunday morning, said police in San Antonio, where temperatures on Saturday reached 101 degrees. The employee gave the person the water and then called police, and when officers arrived they found the eight people dead in the back of the trailer and 30 other survivors inside."
  • "Investigators checked store surveillance video, which showed vehicles had arrived and picked up other people from the tractor-trailer. ... [M]any of those inside the truck appeared to be adults in their 20s and 30s but also apparently two school-age children."

Scaramucci's fiesty exchange with Jake Tapper over deleted tweets

New White House Communications Director Anthony Scaramucci has been deleteting some of his old tweets, including comments on topics like climate change and guns.

Below is his Sunday exchange with CNN host Jake Tapper on the topic:

A sampling:


Trump's mini-me

Pablo Martinez Monsivais / AP

Look for Anthony Scaramucci, the incoming White House communications director, to take the White House podium more often than his predecessors. In past administrations, it has been a largely behind-the-scenes position, with the press secretary doing the daily on-camera talking.

  • "He's good at it and he's competitive," one friend said. "He's going to want to be out there on the days with the biggest sh--storms. He likes the game. He likes to spar, but he's not nasty about it. And he likes the controversy — he's a typical Wall Street guy."
  • Nevertheless, Mooch plans to elevate the cachet of the new press secretary, Sarah Huckabee Sanders. Expect her to do the vast bulk of on-camera briefings.
  • He's been deleting lots of old tweets, but here they are.

Talker column by Maureen Dowd on "The Mooch And the Mogul":

"A wealthy mini-me Manhattan bro with wolfy smile and slick coif who will say anything and flip any position. A self-promoter extraordinaire and master salesman who doesn't mind pushing a bad product — and probably sees it as more fun. ... The Mogul and the Mooch is a tender love story with dramatic implications for the imploding White House.
"Both enjoy stirring the pot ... They savor counterpunching ... But a change in communications personnel will not solve the central problem for President Trump. He doesn't understand that Robert Mueller is not a contractor he's in a civil litigation dispute with, someone he can intimidate and wear down and threaten and bleed out."

Scaramucci promises "dramatic action" to stop the leaks

New White House Communications Director Anthony Scaramucci is making the Sunday Show rounds today.

  • From Fox News Sunday with Chris Wallace: "[W]e have to get the leaks stopped. If we don't get them stopped. I'm a businessperson so I will take dramatic action to stop those leaks. ... If the leaks don't stop I'm going to pare down the staff because it's just not right.... Something is going on inside the White House that the president does not like. We will fix it."
  • From an interview with John Dickerson of CBS News, when asked how he'll treat leakers on his watch: "They're going to get fired. I'm just going to make it very, very clear, okay? Tomorrow I'm going to have a staff meeting. And it's going to be a very binary thing. I'm not going to make any prejudgments about anybody on that staff. If they want to stay on the staff, they're going to stop leaking."
  • Bonus: Scaramucci told Wallace that while he thinks some members of the press are stretching or making up stories, he wants to "engage" the mainstream media, adding that he wants to "de-escalate" tensions between the press and the White House.

Newfound Clinton-era memo: presidents can be indicted

Susan Walsh / AP

"Can Presidents Be Indicted? A Long-Hidden Legal Memo Says Yes," by N.Y. Times' Charlie Savage:

  • "A newfound memo from Kenneth W. Starr's independent counsel investigation into President Bill Clinton ... raises the possibility that Mr. Mueller may have more options than most commentators have assumed."
  • The 56-page memo was written for Starr by constitutional scholar Ronald Rotunda, "locked in the National Archives for nearly two decades and obtained by The New York Times under the Freedom of Information Act."
  • The memo concludes: 'It is proper, constitutional, and legal for a federal grand jury to indict a sitting president for serious criminal acts that are not part of, and are contrary to, the president's official duties ... In this country, no one, even President Clinton, is above the law.'"
  • "In 1974, the Watergate special counsel, Leon Jaworski, had also received a memo from his staff saying he could indict the president."
  • See the Starr memo, posted by The Times.

Report: U.K. wants Trump test trip before full State visit

President Trump has been asked to visit the U.K. for low-key talks with Theresa May this year, according to a report by the Daily Mail, which says the trip will be a test run for whether to hold a full State visit.

The British tabloid claims U.K. leadership is concerned about Trump potentially violating protocol while visiting the Queen, in addition to fears of a falling out with British PM Theresa May that could risk a bad post-Brexit U.S. trade deal for the U.K., while the White House wants to avoid the embarrassment of major anti-Trump rallies during a visit with an ally.

Then-president Barack Obama's first U.K. state visit in 2011 included meetings with the Queen, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, and PM David Cameron and opposition leader Ed Miliband.


General: "unimaginable" to allow North Korea capability to nuke U.S.

Wong Maye-E / AP

Comments yesterday at the Aspen Security Forum from Marine Gen. Joseph Dunford, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, via Politico's Nahal Toosi:

"Many people have talked about military options with words like 'unimaginable'... I would probably shift that slightly and say it would be horrific... [A]nyone who's been alive since World War II has never seen the loss of life that could occur if there's a conflict on the Korean Peninsula.
"[I]t is not unimaginable to have military options to respond to North Korean nuclear capability. What's unimaginable to me is allowing a capability that would allow a nuclear weapon to land in Denver, Colorado. That's unimaginable to me. So my job will be to develop military options to make sure that doesn't happen."

Go deeper: We asked experts how to deal with North Korea.


Lawmakers agree on Russia sanctions for election-meddling

Evan Vucci / AP

A group of bipartisan lawmakers agreed today to move forward with legislation that would impose sanctions against Russia for their meddling in the 2016 U.S. election, NYT reports. Congress will vote on Tuesday. The expansive sanctions are also for continuing to deploy military forces in Ukraine, annexing Crimea, and abusing human rights.

  • The White House has argued that Congress should allow Trump to have flexibility in his ability to adjust these sanctions as a way to handle Russia how he sees fit. Trump has tried to manage the U.S.' relationship with Russia on his own terms, and these sanctions would make that more difficult.
  • Why it matters: Congress will force Trump into a difficult decision: veto the bill, or move forward and risk his efforts to improve our relationship with Russia. The legislation includes sanctions on North Korea and Iran.
  • Paul Ryan's spokeswoman AshLee Strong told Axios: "This a tough sanctions package that includes measures overwhelmingly supported on a bipartisan basis that would hold three bad actors to account: Iran, Russia, and North Korea. We look forward to moving these sanctions next week before the August work period."

Major problems plague start of Pokemon Go Fest

Credit: Niantic

The creators of Pokemon Go held their first major in-person event in Chicago on Saturday but things got off to a rough start. Many of those who paid to attend the event reported being stuck in line or unable to log into the app. Attendees would have a chance to catch rare Pokemon — including a Pokemon "monster" if certain goals were met, per Chicago Tribune.
CEO John Hanke was booed as he took the stage in Grant Park, and festival attendees reportedly started chanting "fix the game" at him when they realized they were unable to log on. Niantic is currently working on the issue and the company will reportedly refund participants for their tickets and give them $100 in virtual currency for the game.
Why it matters: Live events are seen as a big part of the company's strategy to keep the game's most active players engaged, so technical issues during a highly-anticipated event do not bode well for the company.

Scaramucci goes full Breitbart

Breitbart / YouTube

Anthony Scaramucci gave his first interview as White House communications director to Breitbart's Matt Boyle. The two sounded like old friends, with Scaramucci kicking off the early-morning SiriusXM's "Breitbart News Saturday" interview by jokingly asking Boyle, "Did you send your job application form in yet, Matt?...Do you need my email so I can get your resume over here?"

Boyle laughed and replied: "Anthony, I'm honored, maybe we can talk about that later." Scaramucci praised Breitbart for capturing "the spirit of what is actually going on in the country, where there's a large group of people...who've been disaffected from the economic franchise." (FWIW: I asked Boyle whether he'd seriously consider a job in the White House press shop and he declined to comment.)

Between the lines: Sean Spicer had a terrible relationship with Breitbart, the right-wing outlet whose alumni, including Steve Bannon, now work in the White House. Scaramucci now appears to want to elevate the outlet in general, and Boyle in particular. By giving Boyle (Breitbart's most unrestrained attack dog) such prominence from the outset, Scaramucci is signaling that the President wants to make better use of conservative/friendly media outlets to transmit his messages without a critical filter.

Interview highlights:

  • Breitbart First: Scaramucci told Boyle that he and the President talked Friday about the fact that there are "enough outlets, whether it's Breitbart, the President's social media feed, all of the different apparatus that we have where people will allow us to deliver our message to the American people unfiltered."
  • Fresh start: Scaramucci also called his appointment a "fresh start" and said he wanted to see if he could "de-escalate" tensions with mainstream media outlets.
  • Bonding over "fake news": At the end of the interview Boyle asked Scaramucci how he planned to "combat" the "fake news" given he was a "victim of fake news" recently on CNN. Boyle was referring to CNN's recent retraction of a story about Scaramucci, which resulted in CNN management firing three employees. Boyle wrote more than a dozen pieces bashing CNN during that period. Scaramucci said to Boyle: "You've also been a great help in terms of exposure and I do appreciate what you did for me during that incident...I want to thank you publicly in front of your listeners."