Dec 10, 2019

Axios Generate

Welcome back! Today's Smart Brevity count: 1,120 words, ~ 4 minutes.

And this month back in 1971, Faces released a heck of a song that's today's intro track...

1 big thing: Warren wants a "blue new deal"

Photo Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios. Photo: Elijah Nouvelage/Getty Images

Elizabeth Warren is out with new plans to speed up offshore wind projects, expand marine sanctuaries, and bolster use of oceans to soak up carbon emissions.

Driving the news: Those are three pillars of the far wider "Blue New Deal" — a riff on the "Green New Deal" concept — on ocean policy that the Democratic White House hopeful unveiled Tuesday.

Why it matters: Politically, the plan's arrival follows Warren's recent slide in the polls after challenging Joe Biden for frontrunner status in the fall.

  • There's plenty of competition for the green mantle as Bernie Sanders, Warren's rival for progressive voters, touts his plans.
  • Billionaire climate advocates like Mike Bloomberg — who is at UN climate talks in Spain today — and Tom Steyer are spending heavily.

How it works, part 1: Energy-related provisions in Warren's plan include...

  • A vow to "streamline and fast-track permitting" for offshore wind, which Warren accuses President Trump of slow-walking even as developers seek to build major Atlantic Coast projects.
  • Calling on Congress to approve long-term extensions of renewable energy tax credits and provide more resources to the Interior Department's offshore energy branches.
  • Pledging to restore Obama-era bans on Arctic offshore drilling as part of her wider opposition to new offshore leases and phasing out existing offshore development.
  • A push to electrify shipping ports, which are hives of heavy-duty diesel vehicle traffic

How it works, part 2: On climate, Warren vows an executive order requiring the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration to bolster ocean carbon sequestration efforts.

  • "I will also direct NOAA to map and establish 'Blue Carbon Zones' in federal waters, so that we can identify, protect, and manage these highly productive areas."

Quick take: The plan blends Warren's jobs and economic justice messages into her environmental posture.

  • For instance, it says additional subsidies and tax benefits for large ocean renewable projects would be subject to "community benefits agreements" that "should include requirements for prevailing wages and collective bargaining rights."
  • And this line about getting offshore wind projects approved stood out: "The climate crisis is too urgent to let the ultra-wealthy complain about wind turbines getting in the way of their ocean views."
2. Another look at the U.S. oil surge
Expand chart
From the "Oil, Gas and the Climate" report, with data from Rystad Energy; Chart: Danielle Alberti/Axios

America is poised to produce far more oil and natural gas over the next five years than any other country in the world, according to a new report, Axios' Amy Harder writes.

Why it matters: It shows how America, already the world’s largest oil and gas producer, is poised to cement that position, with pivotal implications for geopolitics and climate change.

By the numbers: The U.S. could produce just over 24 billion barrels of oil equivalent over the next five years, according to a report by two environmental groups, the Global Gas and Oil Network and Oil Change International, which analyzed projection data from research firm Rystad Energy.

  • This works out to be roughly 13.2 million barrels of oil equivalent per day, a figure that includes both oil and natural gas.
  • For context: The U.S. currently producing about 12 million barrels of oil a day.
  • Much of this growth is coming from the Permian Basin across West Texas and southeastern New Mexico, which the report says would account for nearly 40% of new U.S. oil and gas production in the next 30 years.

How it works: The accompanying chart, adapted from the report, is looking at projected production over this five-year time period from currently undeveloped reserves.

  • This includes industry data, such as projects expected to receive final investment decisions.

The intrigue: The environmental groups released the report last week at the United Nations climate conference underway in Madrid.

  • It concludes that CO2 emissions from oil and gas in currently operating fields would push the world past the temperature rise limit — 1.5°C — that scientists say the world should stay under to avoid the worst impacts of a warming world.
  • “This is true even if global coal use were phased out overnight, and cement emissions were drastically reduced,” the report writes.

Go deeper:

3. Congress confronts Trump on Nord Stream 2

The House-Senate deal made on Monday on must-pass defense legislation would impose sanctions against companies helping Russia complete the Nord Stream 2 natural gas pipeline to Germany.

Why it matters: Critics contend the project will bolster Russia's leverage in Europe plus erode energy security and Ukrainian access to Russian gas.

But, but, but: The Trump administration, which opposes the project, has not imposed sanctions under existing authorities.

  • Last year Trump softened U.S. criticism toward the project, breaking with the years-long State Department posture.

What they're saying: GOP Sen. Ted Cruz said via Twitter late last night that he would work with the administration to "make sure these sanctions are fully implemented and any violators are tracked and duly designated."

  • He worked with Democratic Sen. Jeanne Shaheen on the provision.

The intrigue: The project is well under construction, so it's unclear if the bill will prove anything more than symbolic.

  • "In October, Denmark gave its long-delayed permission for the pipeline to be built in its waters, clearing a final hurdle for a project that is more than 80 per cent finished," the Financial Times reports.
  • However, their piece notes that sanctions could slow the development.
4. Catch up fast: oil, batteries, climate

Saudi Arabia: Bloomberg dug into the Saudi's newly released 2020 budget and concludes the kingdom "isn’t counting on much of an uplift from crude prices."

  • "The world’s biggest oil exporter has designed next year’s budget under the assumption that Brent will average about $65 per barrel," Ziad Daoud, Bloomberg’s chief economist in the Middle East, states.
  • Other analysts they cite put the budget's assumed oil price in the $55–$62 range.

Batteries: Per Reuters, "The European Commission approved on Monday 3.2 billion euros ($3.53 billion) of state aid from seven European Union countries for research and innovation in battery technology."

Climate: Via AP, "More than 600 institutional investors managing a whopping $37 trillion in client assets called Monday for governments to step up their efforts against climate change."

5. Mayor Pete's private sector energy work

We'll soon know more about Pete Buttigieg's work at consulting giant McKinsey and Co. after Monday's announcement that he got permission to release the full client list. Some of the energy-related parts are already known.

Why it matters: The campaign's Friday release of a summary about his tenure there creates a fuller picture of the 37-year-old South Bend mayor's private-sector stint.

Driving the news: The summary shows that he worked in 2008–2009 on a project that produced a report on improving energy efficiency and cutting emissions in industrial, residential and commercial buildings.

  • Sponsors included power companies (like Southern Company), nonprofits (like the Natural Resources Defense Council) and government agencies.

The intrigue: There's less info about two other projects until the whole client list surfaces...

  • Work in Chicago in 2008 with an unnamed retail chain on "opportunities for selling more energy-efficient home products in their stores."
  • Work with a California-based 2009 project with an environmental group "on a study to research opportunities in energy efficiency and renewable energy."