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Join Axios for our debut editorial event in L.A. on the next frontier: the human brain on Wednesday, June 14th at 8:30 a.m. Pacific. Axios Science editor Alison Snyder will host one-on-one conversations with leading experts on artificial intelligence, brain-machine interfaces, and biopharmaceuticals. More information and RSVP here.

Ok let's dive in . . .

They’re bringing social back


The think tank Resources for the Future is launching an initiative to update estimates of the "social cost of carbon" — a metric policymakers and businesses use to tally the monetary damages of increased emissions. The launch of the multi-year effort arrives roughly two months after a White House executive order disbanded an Obama-era interagency group on the issue and withdrew its estimates.

What they're saying: RFF and other critics say President Trump's approach, which instructs agencies to use a more limited methodology from 2003, is too narrow and low-balls the actual impact of emissions.

RFF's new initiative flows from recommendations in an early 2017 National Academy of Sciences report that was co-chaired by RFF president Richard Newell, who yesterday said in a statement that estimates "should be based on the most up-to-date science and economics, and be totally transparent."

Quick take: State, city, and corporate efforts to cut emissions can't simply replace federal rules and policies, as my colleague Amy Harder wrote about here. And, RFF can't force federal agencies to use updated estimates on the social costs of carbon.

Yes, but: The effort could inform a future administration, and guide other parties like states and companies. The RFF move is another example of non-federal parties expanding climate efforts as Trump pulls Washington back.

Rollback rebound: In a related policy area, the consulting firm ClearView Energy Partners coined the term "rollback rebound" when forecasting that liberal states could accelerate their climate and renewable energy policies in response to Trump's scuttling of Obama-era rules.

Natural gas exporter staffs up

Amy has a cool post in the Axios stream this morning on natural gas exports and the staffing moves of one ambitious company. Here's a piece of it...

Driving the news: Former President Obama's top international energy envoy has joined a natural gas exporting company that's banking on swift federal reviews under the Trump administration and a booming export market in five years.

Amos Hochstein, who ran the State Department's energy bureau under Obama, is now a senior advisor and vice president at Tellurian, a company founded last year that filed an application in April to export liquefied natural gas.

Why it matters: Hochstein's hire demonstrates that natural gas exports are one of the few energy policy areas where bipartisan support has endured the transition from Obama to Trump. Obama streamlined the federal review process from three steps to two, and Trump officials signaled last month it's a top priority for them too.

Click here for more on Tellurian's staffing moves and the wider picture on U.S. gas exports.

R&D cuts could lead to Chinese battery raid

My Axios colleague Steve LeVine, who knows a thing or two about batteries, has a post in our Future of Work stream about the effect of Trump's budget proposal.

What they're saying: Leading U.S. battery researchers tell Steve that a proposed 75% cut in federal funding could set back U.S. hopes to dominate the future of batteries and electric cars, and lead to a raid of U.S. talent by China and others in the technological race.

More from his piece:

  • The mood is somber this week at an annual conference in D.C., where hundreds of battery researchers from universities and federal labs are presenting their latest findings, and justifying millions of dollars in government funding toward the creation of super batteries for electric cars and the grid.
  • In interviews, researchers said Congress is likely to largely ignore Trump's proposals and restore much of 2018 funding. But — given the intensity of competition for industries expected to be worth hundreds of billions of dollars in future sales — they said the best ideas could be wooed away by China, Japan, South Korea, or others.

Click here for the whole thing.

Wind industry boosts GOP lobbying muscle

Two lobbying registrations in the wind industry just surfaced in the Lobbying Disclosure Act database:

  • American Wind Energy Association brought on Holland & Hart, and specifically partner William Myers III, who was the Interior Department's solicitor in the George W. Bush administration.
  • Statoil Wind U.S. tapped Brownstein Hyatt Farber Schreck to lobby on offshore wind development. Like AWEA, they're boosting their GOP connections. One of the Brownstein lobbyists will be Jon Hrobsky, a former GOP Capitol Hill aide who was a senior official in the Interior's offshore energy branch under George W. Bush. The other is Luke Johnson, another W. Bush-era Interior vet who also worked for the late Utah GOP Sen. Bob Bennett.

A global power snapshot

Energy Information Administration

The Energy Information Administration, using World Bank data, has crafted a brief report on the increasing global access to electricity. Lots of people still don't have it, but that share of the global population fell from 25% in 1994 to 15% in 2014.

One reason why: urbanization. EIA notes that the growing percent of the global population with power access stems in part from the movement to cities — 53% of the world lived in urban areas in 2014, up from 44% in 1994.

Oil news on my screen

Regulations: The Interior Department may merge two offshore energy divisions established in the wake of the BP Deepwater Horizon catastrophe in 2010, Bloomberg reports.

  • The Obama administration, seeking to resolve what it called inherent conflicts of interest, broke apart the scandal-plagued Minerals Management Service to create separate branches on drilling safety regulations and offshore leasing.

Prices: Reuters looks at the persistent glut of crude oil sloshing around world markets that sent prices tumbling this week. The recent market trends underscore OPEC's challenge despite the cartel's extension of its production-cutting deal.

  • "The challenge OPEC is facing is bigger than anyone thought a few weeks ago," Tamas Varga of the London brokerage PVM Oil Associates tells Reuters.

Markets: The Financial Times has the latest on Saudi Aramco's plans for a massive IPO.

  • "Saudi Aramco will not join the FTSE 100 stock index if it lists its shares in the UK, averting confrontation with City institutions and strengthening London's status as frontrunner for a slice of the Saudi state oil group's initial public offering," the paper reports.

Keep the tips and feedback coming to


Puerto Rico in crisis

A man looks at the horizon early in the morning after the passing of Hurricane Maria, in Yabucoa, Puerto Rico. Photo: Carlos Giusti / AP

Puerto Rico remains without power and short on supplies after being slammed by Hurricanes Irma and Maria. Officials are having difficulty even communicating with outlying towns that were devastated by the storm, and the humanitarian crisis is growing.

After focusing for days, at least publicly, on NFL protests and other matters, President Trump tweeted about the crisis in Puerto Rico on Monday night — and seemed to blame Puerto Rico in part for its own misfortune.

Trump's tweets: "Texas & Florida are doing great but Puerto Rico, which was already suffering from broken infrastructure & massive debt, is in deep trouble....It's old electrical grid, which was in terrible shape, was devastated. Much of the Island was destroyed, with billions of dollars....owed to Wall Street and the banks which, sadly, must be dealt with. Food, water and medical are top priorities - and doing well. #FEMA"

What Puerto Rican officials have said

From Governor Ricardo Rosselló: "We are U.S. citizens that just a few weeks ago went to the aid of other U.S. citizens even as we're going through our fiscal downturn and as we were hit by another storm…Now, we've been essentially devastated. Complete destruction of the power infrastructure, severe destruction of the housing infrastructure, food and water are needed. My petition is that we were there once for our brothers and sisters, our other U.S. citizens, now it's time that U.S. citizens in Puerto Rico are taken care of adequately, properly."

From Manati mayor Jose Sanchez Gonzalez: "Hysteria is starting to spread. The hospital is about to collapse. It's at capacity," he said, crying. "We need someone to help us immediately."

The scale of the crisis

  • Government officials said Sunday a dam on the Western part of the island "will collapse at any time." Eastern areas, which were hit by the eye of the storm, could take years to recover.
  • Officials estimate it could take up to 6 months to restore power to the whole island.
  • Federal agencies have cleared the Port of San Juan for daytime operations, but accessing Puerto Rico is pretty difficult right now — airports and harbors are severely damaged and the whole island remains out of power. 11 ships have delivered 1.6 million gallons of water, 23,000 cots, dozens of generators and food, per the AP. Many hospital patients are being flown to the U.S. mainland for treatment.
  • The death toll is at least 10 in Puerto Rico, and 31 if you include other Caribbean islands, per the AP.
  • 1,360 of the island's 1,600 cell towers are down. 85% of phone and internet cables were knocked out.

Personal experiences

  • When locals see outsiders, the first thing they ask is "Are you FEMA?" per The Washington Post.
  • "Nothing's working, we don't hear from anyone…We feel abandoned," Toa Baja resident Johanna Ortega told USAToday.
  • Food at local grocery stores is "VERY LIMITED," San Juan resident Claudia Batista messaged Axios. Batista described the situation in San Juan as "desperate times," saying because of "all the material loss, people are losing control and patience and are stealing in other homes and assaulting people on the streets."
  • Some local responders in Juncos cleared streets with machetes since the town doesn't have enough chain saws. People are riding bikes and walking for miles to get to gas stations

What FEMA is doing

  • FEMA teams were in Puerto Rico earlier this month following Hurricane Irma, and as soon as Hurricane Maria's winds died down they launched search-and-rescue missions, per USAToday.
  • All of the 28 task force teams around the U.S. have been recruited to help, which is rare, per Karl Lee, a FEMA Incident Support Team member.
  • FEMA responders are using a San Juan hotel as a command center.
  • 4,000 U.S. Army Reserve members have also been deployed to the island. The Army Corps of Engineers dispatched the 249th Engineer Battalion, per CNN.

What Trump has said

Trump declared a major disaster in Puerto Rico and said all of the U.S. government is behind the relief efforts. White House adviser Tom Bossert and FEMA's chief are heading to Puerto Rico Monday, although a trip from Trump isn't expected for a while, per CNN.

  • Rosselló thanked Trump on Monday for having federal emergency assistance provided, per the AP, noting FEMA has done a "phenomenal job."

Trump's most recent tweets about Puerto Rico, from last week:

Take a look

How to help


Trump goes after McCain over health care vote

President Trump tweeted at Senator John McCain, who is currently in treatment for brain cancer, over his decision to oppose the latest Republican health care plan:

The back-and-forth: McCain was more subtle in critiquing Trump during a 60 Minutes interview Sunday. He said the two had very different upbringings, after noting that Trump had not apologized for saying he was not a war hero.


Entire Cowboys team takes a knee

Photo: Matt York / AP

Prior to the national anthem at their Monday Night Football matchup with the Arizona Cardinals, the entire Dallas Cowboys team, including owner Jerry Jones, took a knee. They then stood for the anthem.

Go deeper: How NFL teams have reacted to Trump's comments.


Report: Bannon, Priebus, Ivanka used private email in White House

From L-R, Stephen Miller, Reince Priebus, Steve Bannon. Photo: Carolyn Kaster / AP

Several current and former senior Trump administration officials occasionally used private email to conduct government business, the NY Times reports. The officials named: Steve Bannon, Reince Priebus, Ivanka Trump, Gary Cohn, Stephen Miller and Jared Kushner (Politico had previously reported Kushner sent or received about 100 emails about White House matters using his private address).

Why it matters: Trump railed against Hillary Clinton incessantly during the campaign for her use of private email as Secretary of State. Government officials are supposed to use their government accounts so their communications will be stored, and failing to do so can cause security risks.

Trump denies split with Kelly over NFL comments

Trump lashed out at CNN for reporting that John Kelly opposed his NFL remarks. Photo: Evan Vucci / AP

President Trump lashed out at CNN on Twitter Monday evening, calling them "Fake News" for reporting that John Kelly was opposed to his comments at Friday's rally calling for NFL players who protest during the national anthem to be "fired." CNN reported that Kelly "was not pleased" with Trump's remarks, later updating the story to reflect Kelly's conversation with CNN reporter Jeff Zeleny, during which Kelly said he was "appalled" by the lack of respect for the flag.

"I believe every American, when the national anthem is played, should cover their hearts and think about all the men and women who have been maimed and killed," Kelly told Zeleny. "Every American should stand up and think for three lousy minutes." However, Zeleny noted that Kelly declined to say whether he felt Trump should have weighed in.


Russian Facebook ads aimed to spark divisions over Black Lives Matter, other groups

Russian hackers used Facebook ads to pit different social, racial and political groups against one another. Photo: Joerg Koch / AP

Last week, Facebook said it was planning to turn more than 3,000 ads bought by Russian operatives during the 2016 campaign over to congressional investigators. On Monday, the Washington Post reported on details of some of the ads, which pitted different social groups against one another. For example, some of the Russian ads promoted groups like Black Lives Matter, while others warned that those groups pose a dangerous threat to society.

Between the lines: Russian hackers, who worked off of evolving lists of racial, religious, political and economic themes, were able to take advantage of the ability to send targeted messages to different Facebook users based on their political and demographic affiliations. The aim appears to have been to inflate tension between already feuding groups.

Facebook declined to comment, but referred Axios to its earlier update, which noted that "the ads and accounts appeared to focus on amplifying divisive social and political messages across the ideological spectrum."


Collins will oppose Senate health care bill

Sen. Susan Collins said she opposes the Senate's health care plan. (AP Photo/Robert F. Bukaty, File)

Sen. Susan Collins officially said she will oppose the Senate's latest bill to repeal parts of the Affordable Care Act — yet another nail in the coffin for a bill that's moving further away from the 50 votes it would need to pass.

Why it matters: It would only take three "no" votes to kill the bill. And Collins' opposition makes it a total of four Republicans who say they won't vote for the bill — two moderates (Collins and Sen. John McCain) and two conservatives (Sens. Rand Paul and Ted Cruz).


Report: 'Iranian missile test' Trump tweeted about never happened

Missiles are on display in Tehran on Sunday during the country's annual Defense Week. Photo: Vahid Salemi / AP

On Friday, Iran claimed to have tested a new medium-range ballistic missile capable of striking Israel with multiple warheads — but, according to Fox News, that missile launch never actually took place. Video footage purporting to show the launch was actually from a failed test back in January.

Why it matters: The world is waiting to hear President Trump's decision — he claimed to have made up his mind last week — on whether or not to stay in the Iran nuclear deal. It's significant that Trump used the "launch" to again decry the deal, tweeting on Saturday: "Not much of an agreement we have!"


Irma captured America's attention more than other storms

It's been a busy hurricane season, with three powerful hurricanes hitting and one just missing U.S. territories. Here's when and how often Americans' searched Google each of them.

Data: Google Trends; Chart: Lazaro Gamio / Axios

Why it matters: Irma received the most attention, according to Google, likely due to reports it'd be the most powerful hurricane ever to hit the U.S. Meanwhile, Puerto Rico has been devastated by Hurricane Maria, but interest from the U.S. is substantially less than during both Harvey and Irma.

Note: This search data does not include Puerto Rico. Puerto Ricans were highly interested in both Hurricane Irma and Hurricane Maria, with the least interest in Harvey.


Target to raise minimum wage to $11 per hour, $15 by 2020

Elise Amendola / AP

Target has announced it will raise its minimum wage from $10 per hour to $11 across all U.S. stores, CNBC reports. The changes will begin in October and are part of Target's $7 billion re-investment in the company. Target has promised an hourly minimum wage of $15 by 2020.

The context: Target has been in a wage war with Wal-mart, which raised base hourly pay to $10 in 2016. The federal minimum wage is $7.25 per hour, and it has not increased since 2009.