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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.

Featured

Peter Thiel has parted ways with Y Combinator

Peter Thiel. Photo: Kevin Moloney / Fortune Brainstorm Tech

Famed investor Peter Thiel, who publicly supported Donald Trump during his candidacy and as president, is no longer affiliated with startup accelerator program Y Combinator, as BuzzFeed first reported and a blog post update confirms.

Be smart: Thiel isn't the only one departing the program. Y Combinator has shuttered its entire part-time partner program in which Thiel participated, according to BuzzFeed. So it's not quite the symbolic move many wanted YC to make last year.

  • The organization has been experimenting with various ways to involve alumni entrepreneurs who want to advise new startups, such as having "visiting partners" for a 6-month run.
  • And as a venture capitalist with close ties to the startup community and friendships with some of YC's executives, it's hard to believe that Thiel won't continue to meet with and invest in the accelerator program's startups.
Featured

Report: War on ISIS killing 31 times more civilians than claimed

Airstrikes target ISIS positions on the edge of the Old City a day after Iraq's prime minister declared "total victory" in Mosul, Iraq. Photo: Felipe Dana / AP

The U.S.-led war against ISIS is claiming civilian lives at a rate 31 times higher than was previously acknowledged by the coalition, according to Azmat Khan and Anand Gopal, NYT reporters who conducted an 18-month investigation in northern Iraq.

Why it matters: This staggering number of deaths "is at such a distance from official claims that, in terms of civilian deaths, this may be the least transparent war in recent American history," per NYT. It also raises questions about civilian casualties in neighboring Syria, and how far this reporting problem reaches around the world.

What they did, per the NYT: The reporters went to roughly 150 airstrike sites in northern Iraq to interview witnesses and local officials, photograph bomb fragments, search local records and news sources, and map out the destruction through satellite imagery. They visited the American air base in Qatar where the coalition is based and interviewed coalition officials and advisers. They provided coalition analysts with coordinates and date ranges of 103 air strikes to examine and compare their responses.

What they found, per the NYT: The coalition claims 1 civilian is killed in every 157 airstrikes but their on-the-ground analysis shows 1 civilian is killed in every 5 airstrikes. They added the coalition is doing a poor job of investigating claims or even to keep proper records to make investigation possible.

"While some of the civilian deaths we documented were a result of proximity to a legitimate ISIS target, many others appear to be the result simply of flawed or outdated intelligence that conflated civilians with combatants," according to Khan and Gopal.

Featured

White House on sexual allegations: Franken admitted wrongdoing, Trump hasn't

White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders speaks during a press briefing at the White House. Photo: Alex Brandon / AP

Press Secretary Sarah Sanders told reporters Friday that the allegations of sexual misconduct against Sen. Al Franken are different from those against President Trump because, "Senator Franken has admitted wrongdoing, and the president hasn't. That's a very big distinction."

Key quote: When asked why allegations against Franken merit an investigation but those against Trump don't, Sanders replied "The American people spoke very loud and clear when they elected the president."

More from Sanders:

  • Is it the WH position that Trump's accusers are lying? "The president has denied those allegations."
  • Does Trump believe the women who accused Roy Moore? "The president certainly finds the allegations extremely troubling ... and he feels it's up to [Alabama] ... to make a determination."

Chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers, Kevin Hassett, joined Sanders to discuss the latest on tax reform:

  • Trickle-down economics: "There's nothing about that's controversial."
  • Difficulty of passing tax reform in the Senate: "I'm hopeful that people can work it out, and that everybody, even Democrats, will end up wanting to vote for it."
  • Temporary tax cuts: Hassett said he hopes future congresses won't let them expire.
Featured

Florida Democratic Chair resigns after sexual harassment claims

Stephen Bittel apologized to the women who felt uncomfortable. Screengrab via YouTube

Stephen Bittel, Florida's Democratic Party chairman since last January, resigned today after several women accused him of making inappropriate comments toward them, according to Politico's interviews with six women.

Key quote: "There was a lot of boob stuff in his office," one woman, a former fundraiser for Bittel, told Politico. "I was told by other women not to go into his bathroom. I was warned."

Why it matters: Bittel is another Democrat after Franken who has faced allegations of sexual harassment, and he's likely not going to be the last. His resignation is one example of some of the consequences these men will face in the wake of these revelations.

His statements:

  • To Politico on Thursday, before his official resignation: "Every person, regardless of their gender, race, age or sexuality should be treated with respect and valued for their hard work and contributions to our community and if any of my comments or actions did not reflect that belief I am deeply sorry. I have much to learn, but my goal is and has always been to make sure every member of our party has a safe environment in which to succeed. It seems I've not been successful in that goal, and I will do better."
  • On the day of his resignation: "When my personal situation becomes distracting to our core mission of electing Democrats and making Florida better, it is time for me to step aside. I am proud of what we have built as a Party and the wins we have had for Florida families, but I apologize for all who have felt uncomfortable under my tenure at the Democratic Party. I am working with our leadership to elect my successor."
One more quote: "He's just so f----ng creepy," a former party staffer told Politico. "He just leers at you, and stares. I don't know if you know what that feels like, but he just leers at you. I don't know how to describe the feeling."
Featured

Report: Trump administration plans to halt work permits for H-1B spouses

Computer information specialist and immigrant from India, Santosh Pala, right, carries his three-month-old son Hemang during a prayer procession at the Karya Siddhi Hanuman Temple in Frisco, Texas, in 2015. Photo: LM Otero / AP.

The Trump administration plans to halt work permits for the spouses of H-1B visa holders, which would discourage H-1B visa applicants from staying in the country and would revoke the ability to work for thousands of visa holders' spouses, the San Francisco Chronicle reports.

Why it matters: It's another move by the Trump administration to make it more difficult for foreign workers to come to America in its larger effort to safeguard American jobs.

  • Approximately 100,000 spouses and children of H-1B visa holders come to the U.S. every year on a visa known as H-4.
  • These workers were not able to work in the U.S. before 2015, when President Barack Obama created a work permit for some H-4 holders.
  • Silicon Valley will be disproportionately affected, since many high-tech employers employ H-1B workers. Because of the region's high cost of living, It is difficult for a family to survive on one salary and, as a result, may not be able to stay in the country.
  • A decision on the H-4 work authorization will likely come soon, immigration attorneys told The Chronicle.

Other efforts: Earlier this week, a House committee advanced Rep. Darrell Issa's bill to increase restrictions on how "H-1B dependent" companies can obtain the work permits for employees. Find details of Issa's bill here, and the Indian firms' lobbying efforts against crack downs on H-1B visas here.

Featured

Franken's former female staffers defend him amid allegations

Jim Mone / AP

Amid a firestorm of criticism for his alleged sexual misconduct, eight of Sen. Al Franken's former female staffers issued a joint statement obtained by the Star Tribune Friday saying the senator treated them "with the utmost respect" and "was a champion for women both in the legislation he supported and in promoting women to leadership roles in our offices."

Franken's former chief of staff, Casey Aden-Wansbury, also told ABC News that during the eight years she had known him, "he has always worked hard to create a respectful environment for his staff." She added that "the inappropriate behavior reported today does not live up to the values I know he holds."

Featured

Spotify acquires yet another startup as it prepares to go public

Illustration: Sam Jayne / Axios

Spotify has acquired Swedish collaborative music-making startup Soundtrap, the latter said on its website. Spotify paid at least $30 million, according to Breakit.

The big picture: As Spotify eyes a public listing of its stock next year (as it has been reported and sources tell Axios), the company has to keep growing its music business beyond streaming existing tracks. This way, it can provide more services, such as music collaboration tools to artists.

Featured

White House requests 3rd disaster relief package

Volunteers sort supplies for those affected by Hurricane Maria. Photo: Carlos Giusti / AP

The White House requested an additional $44 billion from Congress on Friday for disaster recovery, which if approved would bring the total to almost $100 billion for Texas, Puerto Rico, Florida, and the U.S. Virgin Islands, Politico reports.

Go deeper: The latest on Puerto Rico recovery, per Puerto Rico's government site and FEMA:

  • Almost 82% of the island has water.
  • Nearly 45% of the island has electricity.
  • There are 15,000 civilian/military personnel assisting in recovery, plus 2,800 FEMA personnel.
  • 84% of gas stations are up and running.
  • Almost 89% of supermarkets are running.
  • There are 1,822 people taking shelter in 50 shelters.
Featured

Kayla Moore says her husband will not step down

Roy Moore's wife, Kayla, said that he will not step down from the U.S. senate race in the face of sexual harassment allegations.

Moore also said the "liberal press" and others who have attacked President Trump are now attacking them and taking spotlight away from the Russia investigation: "To the President, I would say now is a good time to get some things done in Congress."

Featured

How evolution shaped passenger pigeons' DNA — and their fate

Martha, the last known passenger pigeon before dying in 1914, can be seen at the Smithsonian's Natural History Museum. Photo: Susan Walsh / AP

A new study suggests passenger pigeons, which once covered North America with massive flocks before their extinction in the early 20th century, may have maintained stable populations for thousands of years until human hunters came along, per The Washington Post. That counters previous research that found the species had already taken a downturn by that time.

The double whammy: Besides the sudden influx of human predators, the birds' genome had been tuned to the size of its population. It had surprisingly low genetic variation in some parts of its genome, which "provided few avenues for the bird to respond to human pressures, which ultimately drove it to extinction," according to the study, published Thursday in Science.

Role of genetics: One way genomes evolve is via random mutation (also called neutral evolution). Those mutations don't necessarily have an immediate benefit but sometimes can in the long run. Another process is selection in which one version of a gene is preferred — or not — over another because it influences survival. Researchers found the passenger pigeon's genome was diverse overall compared to other birds but that diversity wasn't uniform across their chromosomes. The researchers think that suggests their large population size allowed them to adapt quickly to their environment (via selection) but the cost was that there wasn't much neutral evolution happening, which left them with little genetic variation.

"Large population size appears to have allowed for faster adaptive evolution and removal of harmful mutations, driving a huge loss in their neutral genetic diversity," the researchers wrote. "These results demonstrate the effect that selection can have on a vertebrate genome and contradict results that suggested that population instability contributed to this species's surprisingly rapid extinction."

The bottom line: The study says having a huge population was initially a key survival mechanism for the passenger pigeon. However, the birds' surprisingly low genetic variation caused it to be unable to recover from humanity's overhunting practices. As one of the study authors told WashPost, "It's impossible to adapt to gunfire."

Editor's note: This story has been updated to provide further information.