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Happy Friday! Quick note: The inaugural issue of the Axios Science newsletter dropped yesterday. It's great. You can sign up here to get Axios Science in your inbox every Thursday. Ok, let's head for the weekend . . .

Rise of the machines

Giphy

The analysts at Wolfe Research are out with the first installment of their "Journey to the End of the Oil Age" series.

The big idea: One part of Wolfe's lengthy report is a thought-provoking analysis of when and how electric vehicles might really, really take off. The conclusion? By becoming more like iPhones and less like cars.

Crystal ball: Basically, they forecast no medium-term collapse in U.S. gasoline demand (which accounts for nearly half of all U.S. oil use).

But after 2025, things could get really interesting. They see autonomous cars, electrification, and digital connection converging into such a new system that it will be like the ultimate "killer app"— one that transforms the business and consumer equations that have thus far held EVs to a tiny market share.

In their words: "Like other Killer Apps, such as the smartphone, consumers will feel a strong desire to upgrade from old to new, regardless of price relative to the old tech. This will be a step-change in consumer experience."

  • "Automakers...will be highly motivated to sell (unlike current EVs), because the digitally-connected ecosystem and data collection of each unit could hold more revenue opportunity than the initial vehicle sale itself — some estimates are as high as 10x the revenue over the vehicle life."

Bottom line: The report models several adoption scenarios for this "new travel ecosystem." The fastest adoption scenario cuts U.S. gasoline demand in half by around 2033.

My conversation with Rep. Shimkus

GOP Rep. John Shimkus is chairman of the environment subcommittee under the powerful Energy and Commerce Committee. He chatted with me at his Capitol Hill office earlier this week. Some takeaways...

Yucca Mountain: He wants to get legislation to revive the long-stalled nuclear waste repository through the House before the August break, and said there's "no reticence" among leadership.

  • Shimkus knows Yucca faces big hurdles amid opposition in Nevada, but says that "you can pick up bits and pieces of some interest" in the state too.

Ethanol: Shimkus still wants to convene bipartisan talks to seek agreement on changes to the controversial Renewable Fuel Standard. But actual negotiations "have not begun."

Superfund: EPA administrator Scott Pruitt has signaled that he wants to prioritize waste cleanup and Shimkus is hopeful it will happen (though President Donald Trump's proposed budget would cut funding).

  • "I think a lot of Democrats — if [Pruitt] focuses on getting the job done — will appreciate his streamlining the process and really getting to the point of the problem, and trying to fix the problem. Because you can't defend these delays," Shimkus said.
  • Shimkus is interested in working with EPA on potential legislative changes to aid cleanups.

Paris: Amid the internal White House debate, he's leaning toward the side that favors withdrawing from the climate deal, saying he's not a fan of joining international pacts using executive authority.

"The majority of members of the House Republicans would not cry if we left the Paris accords. I think it would be a large majority of our conference," he said.

The Permian engine roars

Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas

The Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas is out with a helpful, reader-friendly snapshot of oil-and-gas data and trends in the region, including the red-hot Permian Basin region of Texas and New Mexico.

Why it matters: The Permian's beehive of activity is a big reason why U.S. production didn't sink further during the price doldrums and why it's moving steadily up toward record levels.

Go deeper: The report notes that the Permian now accounts for nearly 40 percent of the active U.S. drilling rigs.

In their words: "Better economics and higher interest due to the region's favorable geology have likely contributed to the rise; many shale formations in the Permian are stacked, making it efficient to drill into different reservoirs from the same location."

Earth is very warm again in 2017

NOAA

Newly released federal data suggests the planet is on track for another extremely warm year.

The findings: The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration reported that the global land and ocean surface temps from January-April was the second highest such period since records began in 1880, trailing only 2016, and was 0.95°C above the 20th century average.

Why it matters: because global warming.

Let's turn it over to Mashable's science expert Andrew Freedman, who looked at the new NOAA data alongside new NASA data on Arctic warmth fueling high temperatures in April.

"The new findings illustrate how the planet is still setting climate milestones even in the absence of other factors that tend to elevate global air and sea temperatures, such as an El Niño event," Freedman writes.

From Amy’s notebook: conservative climate hires

My Axios colleague Amy Harder reports...

A conservative group, which is pushing a long-shot bid at getting Washington to back a carbon tax, keeps beefing up its ranks.

Exclusive: After launching in February with elder GOP statesmen like James Baker, Henry Paulson, and George Schultz, the Climate Leadership Council has quickly hired several people, including two more this week: Jill Sigal, a top official in President George W. Bush's Energy Department; and, Taiya Smith, who worked with Paulson at the Treasury Department under Bush.

Liberal TED? Speaking of the CLC, its president and founder Ted Halstead gave a TED Talk that posted online this week, which apparently is popular among liberals only.

After Halstead gave his 10-minute pitch (tax carbon emissions, return the money to the public, and scuttle climate regulations), TED curator Chris Anderson returned to the stage during the applause and said: "I'm actually not sure I've seen a conservative getting a standing O at TED before, that's pretty cool."

Reality check: Most of the support for climate policy rests within the Democratic Party, but Halstead and his group are nonetheless confident in their uphill battle.

Roundup: BP personnel moves, OPEC, Paris, and Russia

People: Geoff Morrell, a familiar name in journalism and energy circles, has been promoted to BP's group head of communications and external affairs, based in London.

Morrell is currently the energy giant's senior VP for U.S. communications and external affairs. The former Pentagon spokesman and journalist has been with BP since 2011, and said he's "honored and excited" about the new role that starts in August.

Stepping into Morrell's shoes in the top U.S. role will be Mary Streett, who is currently the company's head of U.S. government affairs.

Paris: Shell CEO Ben van Beurden is pretty outspoken as far as big oil CEOs go, and he's back at it with this NPR interview, where he makes the case for the U.S. staying in the Paris climate accord.

  • "Van Beurden argues CEOs have a responsibility to speak out against industry organizations that support politicians who deny the existence of climate change," NPR reports.

OPEC: Reuters looks at the cartel's behind-the-scenes planning for next week's meeting, where hotly anticipated decisions about extending the production-cutting agreement are expected.

Russia: The Wall Street Journal reports that U.S. officials are looking into Russia's influence over Citgo Petroleum Corp., a move that arrives "amid heightened concern that the Kremlin is seeking to use energy as a political weapon against the U.S."

Thanks for reading! Next week should bring some interesting moments on Capitol Hill. President Trump's two nominees for the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, as well as his pick for the number two Energy Department position, appear before the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee on Thursday.

Confidential tips and feedback are always welcome at ben@axios.com. Have a great weekend.

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Thousands of strangers have been sending letters to Hillary

Win McNamee / AP

BuzzFeed's Ruby Cramer pulls off a Hillary Clinton story that reminds her colleagues of Jimmy Breslin's classic on JFK's gravedigger — an unsung everyman, just off the grand stage ... The Place Where Letters To Hillary Clinton Go:

At just 30 years old, Rob Russo has been one of Hillary Clinton's closest aides for a decade, organizing and drafting her political and personal correspondence. After the election, his job changed as thousands of strangers starting writing to Clinton. Now he's living through the end of an era, one letter at a time.
Interviews with Russo over the last three years — before, during, and after the campaign — depict a career spent producing the materials that, as he describes it, "neatly catalogue the experience" of Hillary Clinton's life. So he was not prepared, a few days after the blow of Nov. 8, for the letters that started showing up in P.O. Box 5256, the one listed on Clinton's website. They came by the hundreds, most from people his boss had never met — all about the loss.
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JFK would have turned 100 today

AP

President John F. Kennedy was born 100 years ago today — May 29, 1917, in Brookline, Mass. He was 43 when he was elected, and lived 3 more years.

  • "JFK's life, legacy to be celebrated on his centennial," by AP's Crystal Hill in Boston: The Postal Service today will dedicate a new JFK postage stamp in Brookline ... "Joe Kennedy III, a great-nephew of JFK, will deliver the keynote at a ceremony at the birthplace and childhood home this afternoon. A wreath-laying ceremony will honor the 35th president at his gravesite at Arlington National Cemetery.
  • "New JFK exhibit offers a glimpse into the president's humanity," by Boston Globe's Andy Rosen: "The John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum [in Boston] has included ... items like pencils from the Oval Office bearing bite marks, a childhood sketch of a tree on a hillside, and the suitcase he used during his presidential campaign give a glimpse into Kennedy's everyday life." Photos of items from the exhibit.
  • JFK's life, in 34 pictures.
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Latest social media craze: lip syncing

Alexi McCammond / Axios

Lip-syncing to popular songs is the latest video craze. Apps like Dubsmash and musical.ly each claim to have more than 100 million users.

Why it matters: With video becoming the new focus in social media, Dubsmash and musical.ly have caught the eye of the entertainment industry; one organically making its way into the hands of celebrities, while the latter has been inking a string of content, advertising, and distribution deals. They could prove to be a new threat to the mainstream social giants like Facebook and Snapchat.

Dubsmash:

  • Content: In 2015, singer Rihanna teased an upcoming song on Dubsmash, letting fans listen to and lip-sync to a 10-second clip of the tune — one of more than 100 campaigns on the platform to promote music, entertainment, and TV content. Late last year, the company also announced the ability for advertisers to sponsor a channel and promote branded content. Warner Brothers did so to promote its movie, Storks, prior to its release.
  • Publicity: A slew of celebrities, including Jennifer Lopez, Hugh Jackman, and Khloe Kardashian have posted videos recorded with Dubsmash. The app has also been featured on NBC's The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon several times.

musical.ly:

  • Content: Musical.ly is reportedly in talks with Viacom and NBC to produce original shows for the networks that feel interactive and authentic, instead of heavily produced. The startup also teamed up the Billboard Music Awards' production company to host fan votes for one of the awards. The strategy is very much like rival Snapchat's, which serves similar Gen Z audiences, and has been inking content deals with shows for months.
  • Advertising: At this year's NewFronts, Hearst announced the first official ad partnership with Musical.ly, produced by Seventeen Magazine.
  • Distribution: Earlier this year, Apple struck a deal with musical.ly to provide songs for the platform's users to create videos around. The Apple Music partnership reportedly gives musical.ly cues to expand its market reach from 30 countries to 120.
  • Licensing: Musical.ly struck its first major music label deal with Warner Music in 2016.
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Trump's mystery tweet: "add more dollars" to health care

President Trump is back on Twitter, and tonight he tweeted about an intriguing idea that's disconnected from pretty much all of the current Republican health care plans: he wants to "add more dollars" to health care.

What the House health care bill does: It would cut overall health care spending by $1.1 trillion over 10 years, including $834 billion in Medicaid savings, according to the latest Congressional Budget Office estimate.

What his budget does: It would cut Medicaid by an additional $610 billion.

Why it matters: It's not clear whether Trump's tweet is an actual policy proposal or just a stray thought that we'll never hear again (a White House spokesman said they have nothing to add). Either way, it's not helpful to Republicans who are have already gone on record supporting an Affordable Care Act repeal plan that cuts spending.

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Trump jolts Europe

Andrew Medichini / AP

After spending time with President Trump at the G7, German Chancellor Angela Merkel has concluded that the United States can no longer be relied upon as a security blanket for Europe. Merkel's comments foreshadow a transformation of the U.S.-European alliances that have underwritten post-WWII stability.

What's behind this: Trump publicly lectured NATO allies that they must stop shirking their financial commitments and begin paying for their own defense rather than relying on the U.S. While the White House publicly rejects this interpretation, Trump's unmistakable message to Europe on his first foreign trip was that the days of unquestioning protection from the U.S. are over.

Merkel's comments, per the AFP:

  • Europe "must take its fate into its own hands" faced with a western alliance divided by Brexit and Donald Trump's presidency, Merkel told a crowd Sunday at an election rally in Munich, southern Germany.
  • While Germany and Europe would strive to remain on good terms with America and Britain, "we have to fight for our own destiny", Merkel went on. Special emphasis was needed on warm relations between Berlin and newly-elected French President Emmanuel Macron, she said.
  • "We Europeans truly have to take our fate into our own hands."
  • "The times in which we could completely depend on others are on the way out. I've experienced that in the last few days."

Side note: As the NYT's Maggie Haberman points out, the place where Merkel's comments will be best received is Russia. Putin is constantly looking for ways to sow discord between European countries and the United States. (Though, it's also worth noting that if NATO countries respond to Trump's pressure by meeting their defense spending commitments, this is bad news for Putin.)

What's next: Trump unsettled Merkel by making the U.S. the only G7 nation to refusing to reaffirm the Paris Accord on climate change. We scooped yesterday that Trump has told confidants he's planning to exit the Paris deal. With Trump there's always the caveat that he could change his mind...But based on my conversations over the past 24 hours, I expect EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt will present a detailed withdrawal plan to Trump and Trump will act on it.

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Dems to tie Russia to Iran on sanctions

Sergie Karpukhin / AP

A well-placed Senate Democratic aide emails this tip: "Expect many Senate Dems to push for the Senate to not do Iran sanctions without Russian sanctions."

What this means: Democratic leaders will exploit the ties between Iran and Russia — and the administration's weak position with regard to anything concerning Russia — to demand that no new sanctions are imposed on Iran without additional sanctions to Russia.

Our thought bubble: Democrats who support the Iran nuke deal, like former Secretary of State John Kerry, are worried about a bill that passed through the Senate Foreign Relations Committee last week. The bill imposes new sanctions on Iran over its ballistic missile tests and other destabilizing behavior. These additional sanctions don't relate to the nuclear deal, but some Democrats are anxious that imposing these sanctions could unravel the Iran deal.

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Hardliners turn on Gary Cohn over coal

Evan Vucci / AP

Almost three days have passed since Gary Cohn expressed skepticism about the future of the U.S. coal industry, but expect conservative hardliners to keep weaponizing Cohn's comments.

The offending comments, made by the President's top economic advisor Thursday aboard Air Force One: "Coal doesn't even make that much sense anymore as a feedstock. Natural gas ... is such a cleaner fuel ... If you think about how solar and how much wind power we've created in the United States, we can be a manufacturing powerhouse and still be environmentally friendly."

  • Breitbart News, the right-wing website formerly run by Trump's chief strategist Steve Bannon, ran an immediate hit piece accusing Cohn of launching a "war on coal." The website followed by interviewing Joe Manchin — "a Democratic U.S. Senator from the heart of coal country in West Virginia" — who attacked Cohn from the right.
  • Myron Ebell, who ran Trump's EPA transition team and wrote the agency's action plan, isn't happy about Cohn's comments and emails me: "NEC Chairman Gary Cohn does not represent the people who voted for Donald J. Trump ... I hope that what President Trump learned is that the other G7 leaders are marching in lockstep in the wrong direction and that it is up to him to lead the world towards energy abundance and prosperity."
  • Thomas Pyle, who headed Trump's energy transition team, emailed me this in response to Cohn's comments: "The wind and solar industry has been built on the backs of American taxpayers and yet still produce a tiny fraction of the energy we consume in the U.S., significantly less than coal. President Trump is a successful businessman who understands the severe impacts that the policies of politicians past have had on working class families in the American Rust Belt. He hardly needs to evolve on this subject."
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Hotels try to reclaim bookings from travel sites

John Locher / AP

According to the Wall St Journal, the hotel industry is trying to cut out middlemen like Priceline and Expedia that take 10-30% commissions on bookings, but hasn't yet figured out how to bring customers direct to them.

  • Booking sites "were crucial for hotels during down periods such as after 9/11, but they have gradually eaten into the share of overall bookings ever since."
  • Per Kalibri Labs, the commissions cost the industry "an estimated $4.5 billion for the 12 months ending last June."
  • Generation gap: "A survey conducted by travel-data firm Adara Inc. showed that 52% of U.S. travelers between the ages of 18 and 34 prefer booking hotels through online search engines... compared with 37% age 35 and older.
  • Priceline's CEO Glenn Fogel: "Free is best. Everyone would like people to come direct to their business. That's not the way the world works, though."
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Exploring caves to fight superbugs​

Popular Science has an eye-opening report on scientists spelunking in caves in search of microbes that could be used in medicine. A few highlights from the report:

  • Why caves? Only about one percent of microbes have been discovered, and caves are "a rich source of new microbes."
  • The danger: They're not always easy to reach, and can be dangerous: "Several of the caves [one scientist] investigates are deep in grizzly bear country, so the scientists have to be carried in by helicopter."
  • The hope: "The idea is that if conditions are harsh they need more advantages to outcompete other microbes," and could fight infections resistant to current antibiotics.
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Merkel suggests Europe can no longer rely on U.S.

Domenico Stinellis / AP

German chancellor Angela Merkel issued a call for unity within the E.U. at a campaign event Sunday, stating that she learned over "the past few days" that "the times in which we can fully count on others are somewhat over."
Merkel's comments came after President Trump scolded NATO members over defense spending and was at odds with the rest of the G7 over climate change.
"We Europeans must really take our destiny into our own hands."
Why it matters: These are extraordinary words from Merkel, revealing fractures within the transatlantic alliance — long underpinned by close cooperation between the U.S., U.K., France and Germany — after the seismic events of Trump's election and Brexit. Times have changed — just a few months ago, Merkel was Barack Obama's closest foreign partner.
Symbolism alert: It was no accident that France's Emmanuel Macron embraced Merkel before shaking hands with Trump at the NATO summit last week. European alliances are being strengthened, and the U.S. is increasingly on the outside looking in.