Welcome back! Today's Smart Brevity count: 1,168 words, 4.4 minutes.
Situational awareness, part 1: Later this morning, President Trump is slated to unveil proposed changes to how officials implement the National Environmental Policy Act.
And at this moment in 1972, Al Green was atop the Billboard R&B charts with today's fantastic intro tune...
Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios
We can already draw some conclusions from yesterday's rollout of the "framework" for big climate legislation House Democrats are crafting through the powerful Energy and Commerce Committee.
Driving the news: I'll get to some takeaways in a moment, but first: The planned bill aims to achieve net-zero U.S. greenhouse gas emissions by 2050. Pillars include...
The intrigue: Here are a few takeaways...
1. Energy and Commerce Chairman Frank Pallone signaled how Democrats are seeking to lay the groundwork now for legislation if the party gains control of Washington in the 2020 elections.
2. Carbon pricing is de-emphasized but it's there if you squint. There's no explicit tax or fee in the framework, and it's not a big federal cap-and-trade system. “We think we can get there and achieve this goal without it," Pallone said of pricing.
3. Leadership-aligned Democrats will face struggles on their left.
Yesterday brought fresh evidence that oil markets aren't massively spooked by the Iran crisis, especially now that things appear to be cooling off.
Driving the news: Brent crude oil prices fell below the levels they were trading at before the U.S. airstrike last week that killed Iranian Gen. Qasem Soleimani.
What's next: Who knows, but a Eurasia Group note yesterday argues the most likely of several scenarios now is de-escalation. One aspect would be "Iran will continue to harass commercial shipping and oil infrastructure at a low level."
Where it stands: Brent crude was trading at $65.46 as we sent this newsletter.
Go deeper: Five reasons oil prices failed to soar on US-Iran tensions (Financial Times)
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Speaking of oil, Bloomberg fact-checks President Trump, noting that while U.S. crude oil imports from the Persian Gulf are at a 30-year low, Trump nonetheless mischaracterized the state of play.
"President Donald Trump said during an address from the White House Wednesday that the U.S. no longer needs oil from the Middle East, but American refineries still use the kind of oil that region produces," they report.
Photo Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios. Photo: Eric Piermont/Getty Images
Tom Donohue, the longtime CEO of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, will deliver a speech Thursday urging bipartisan support for issues that Democrats hold dear — like climate change and infrastructure investment, Axios' Dion Rabouin reports.
Why it matters: The Chamber is the largest business organization in the U.S., and some of Donohue's remarks will be a departure for a group that has, under his leadership, "battled environmental regulations, restrictions on cigarette packaging, workplace anti-discrimination rules and minimum-wage requirements," as WSJ put it.
The big picture: The remarks Donohue plans to deliver today — provided first to Axios — will call for the passing of "35 bipartisan bills that can help address climate change through innovation and investment."
Renewables: Via Greentech Media, "Google and Nevada utility NV Energy have joined up on an energy supply agreement to power an under-construction data center outside Las Vegas, with future capacity that rivals the largest corporate solar power-purchase agreement announced to date in the U.S."
Electric cars: Per Reuters, "Zhejiang Geely Holding Group Co Ltd and Mercedes-Benz on Wednesday said they would each invest 2.7 billion yuan ($388.77 million) in a China-based venture to build 'premium and intelligent electrified' vehicles under the smart brand."
Venture capital: BP said this morning that its VC arm is investing $3.6 million in the Chinese firm R&B, marking what BP calls its "first venture into artificial intelligence (AI) technology in China."
"R&B’s energy management systems are designed to predict, control and improve a building’s energy use," BP said in a release.
The new merger of big auto industry trade groups to form the Alliance for Automotive Innovation won't end the fault lines in the sector's approach to emissions regulations.
Driving the news: The new group says it will not intervene in litigation over the White House move to strip California's power to set emissions rules that exceed federal standards.
“The Alliance for Automotive Innovation does not have a position in the lawsuit,” John Bozzella, head of the new group, said in a statement.
But, but, but: The industry remains deeply divided because a number of automakers in the new group — including GM, Fiat Chrysler, Toyota — are continuing their prior intervention in that lawsuit on the Trump administration's side.
The other side: Remember that a separate ad-hoc coalition of Ford, VW, Honda and BMW last summer reached a preliminary agreement with California to adopt more stringent standards than the White House wants.
The bottom line: It's kind of a mess, and at least for now, the creation of a huge new cross-industry trade group won't change that dynamic.