Good morning from Seattle. I don't recommend moving in the middle of a pandemic, but then again what is recommended during these weird and trying times.
My latest column has exclusive interviews on a topic that's poised to grow in importance amid a recession. I'll share glimpses of that, and then Ben Geman will get you up to speed on other news.
Today's Smart Brevity count: 1,412 words, 5.5 minutes.
Photo illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios. Photos: Johnny Nunez, Scott Olson, and Stringer/Getty Images
Top American civil rights activists are opposing an abrupt move away from natural gas, putting them at odds with environmentalists and progressive Democrats who want to ban fracking.
Driving the news: Revs. Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson and National Urban League president Marc Morial told Axios energy costs are hitting people of color unfairly hard. These concerns, expressed before the coronavirus pandemic, are poised to expand as paychecks shrink.
What they’re saying:
Where it stands: Fracking has unlocked vast reserves of natural gas over the past decade. That’s providing a cheap and relatively cleaner fuel for electricity and heating.
What's happening: “I would not want to cite a specific instance, but generally speaking, people are debating these issues in some instances without consultation with the leaders of the African American communities and neighborhoods affected by these issues,” Morial said.
How it works:
The other side:
What’s next: Stay tuned for a deeper dive into an Illinois natural gas pipeline project Jackson is backing.
The scrutiny of money ties between fossil fuel companies and people of color runs deep. The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People issued a report last year describing what it said were the sector’s manipulation tactics.
Between the lines: The NAACP was attempting to dissuade local chapters from accepting energy-industry money, per the New York Times.
“Whenever someone disagrees with what you say, they think ‘oh you must be getting paid,’” Morial said. “It’s condescending, patronizing and racist. I hope you print it. I want them to see it. Because that’s the way we feel.”
President Trump said on Fox News this morning that he's planning to speak with Russian President Vladimir Putin shortly about the Russia-Saudi rupture on oil policy that's helping to push prices lower.
Why it matters: The three-year-old Saudi-Russia agreement on supply management collapsed in early March, putting further pressure on prices already pushed steeply downward because coronavirus has frozen so much travel and economic activity.
But, but, but: Global demand is undergoing such an unprecedented collapse that any potential changes in Russia and Saudi supply decisions are likely to have only a limited effect.
Speaking of the global demand collapse, a Goldman Sachs note this morning offers a window into the unprecedented crisis facing the oil industry.
Driving the news: Their analysts now estimate that global oil demand has fallen by 26 million barrels per day — a 25% cut in consumption.
Threat level: Bloomberg reports that pipeline operators are asking oil companies to scale back production "in the clearest sign yet that a growing glut of crude is overwhelming storage capacity."
The Trump administration is expected to finalize controversial auto mileage and carbon emissions rules early this week.
Why it matters: The plan, which will weaken a pillar of the Obama-era climate agenda, has been at the center of an intense, years-long political and regulatory struggle.
What we're watching: Here are a few things I will be monitoring when the final rules hit...
Nitrogen dioxide concentrations over Spain. Courtesy of the European Space Agency
One striking way to see the scope of economic paralysis from COVID-19 comes via newly released satellite images from the European Space Agency.
What they found: Observations from the Copernicus Sentinel-5P satellite show steep drops in nitrogen dioxide concentrations over European cities.
Go deeper: Coronavirus lockdowns give Europe's cities cleaner air (Reuters)
Japan told the UN on Monday that it's not currently strengthening its emissions-cutting goal under the Paris climate agreement, instead sticking with the existing target of a 26% reduction from 2013 levels by 2030.
Why it matters: Per Climate Home News, Japan is the first G7 nation to submit a 2020 update as envisioned under the 2015 pact, and its decision drew "criticism from architects of the Paris climate agreement for failing to set tougher targets."
But, but, but: A government official with the U.K., which is slated to host the next big UN climate conference, told Climate Home News they expect Japan to come up with a more ambitious plan.