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ICYMI: The White House yesterday said out loud what's become increasingly clear — there won't be a deal with California on vehicle emissions and mileage rules that federal officials are moving to weaken. The LA Times has more here, and Axios writes on California's wider battle with President Trump here.
And, this week marked a pair of Steely Dan milestones: the Feb. 20 birthday of the late Walter Becker and the 45-year anniversary of the release of "Pretzel Logic," which provides today's intro track...
Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios
CANBERRA, Australia — A decade ago, coal supplied 90% of this national capital region’s electricity. By next year, it will be 0%, and renewable energy will be 100%, Axios' Amy Harder reports.
Why it matters: It’s a rare example of a region traditionally dependent upon coal weaning itself off the fuel. The key lesson: Big pivots in energy systems are possible with stable government leadership, instead of windshield-wiper policies that voters from Australia to America have been accustomed to in recent years.
“We’ve had the same parties in power, that same leadership over a 10-year period. We’ve been able to steadily roll out policies and provide industry certainty.”— Shane Rattenbury, climate change and sustainability minister, Australian Capital Territory
The big picture: Despite its big environmental footprint, coal has traditionally been the world’s cheapest form of electricity. As concerns about air pollution and climate change grow, renewable energy is increasingly competing with coal, buoyed by government policies like the kind this region implemented.
Details: Australia’s economy is particularly dependent upon coal. This nation is the world’s largest coal exporter, and nearly 75% of its electricity is coal-fired.
Yes, but: The capital region faces limitations.
Last night the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission approved Venture Global LNG's multibillion dollar Calcasieu Pass export facility in Louisiana in a 3-1 decision.
Why it matters: FERC Chairman Neil Chatterjee called the green-light — the first in 2 years — a breakthrough that could enable action on other projects.
Where it stands: The decision came after 3 commissioners reached agreement comparing the project's greenhouse gas emissions to total national emissions.
The big picture: Growing exports are enabling the U.S. to become a bigger player in global markets amid record domestic production.
My thought bubble: It's unclear if the U.S. will become a major European supplier. These are commercial decisions and Asian markets have been more attractive.
Go deeper: Read the Washington Examiner's piece on the "breakthrough approval."
Tesla: Consumer Reports says it will no longer recommend the Tesla Model 3 based on complaints from car owners, news that helped send Tesla stock down by 3.74% yesterday.
Ford: Via the Wall Street Journal, "Ford Motor Co. said Thursday that it would investigate its process for certifying vehicles to meet U.S. fuel-economy standards, after a group of employees raised concerns about the company’s testing methods."
This week brought 2 more milestones in the U.S. oil boom.
For the record: The Energy Information Administration said crude production averaged 12 million barrels per day last week for the first time. And crude exports averaged 3.6 million bpd, the highest on record by some margin, per their latest weekly report.
Why it matters: Yes, the weekly data is always preliminary and export levels bounce around. But the trends are clear and the data help show the scale of the U.S. emergence as the world's largest producer and a growing exporter too.
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Saudi Arabia: Via Reuters, "State-owned Saudi Aramco has signed an agreement to form a joint venture with Chinese conglomerate Norinco to develop a refining and petrochemical complex in Panjin city, saying the project is worth more than $10 billion."
The world: 2019 should bring a surge in industry approval of new projects, according to the consultancy Rystad Energy in a Friday note.
This map shows a two-month average of the abundance of nitrogen dioxide (NO2) in the air, as sensed from space by the new Sentinel-5P satellite from the European Space Agency, Axios' Andrew Freedman reports.
Why it matters: Nitrogen dioxide is part of a group of gases referred to as nitrogen oxides, or NOx.
The big picture: NOx comes from fossil-fueled power plants and vehicles, burning biomass, industrial plants and elsewhere.
Where it stands: A lot of point sources visible in the image are to be expected, such as major cities and oil production hubs.
But, but, but: EPA data shows that U.S. NOx emissions have fallen sharply in recent decades to less than half their 1990 levels, and the decline from power plants has been even steeper.
Thursday brought the rollout of a super PAC that will support Washington State Gov. Jay Inslee if he moves ahead with plans for a climate-focused presidential run.
Why it matters: Announcement of the Act Now On Climate super PAC is another sign that global warming, long a second-tier (at best) topic in national elections, could be more prominent in this cycle.
The intrigue: Corey Platt, a senior adviser to the group, tells Politico that the PAC plans to be active even if Inslee doesn't run.
"If he doesn’t, we will continue to work to make sure Democratic presidential candidates make this issue the priority," he said.