Welcome back! Today's Smart Brevity count: 1,151 words/< 5 min. read.
Ok, let's recognize another recent birthday: the late Levon Helm of The Band on May 26. You can hear him on today's intro tune...
Illustration: Rebecca Zisser/Axios
A new report has good news and bad news for anyone hoping that the U.S. can steeply cut greenhouse gas emissions in the coming decades.
Driving the news: The nonprofit Center for Climate and Energy Solutions has released a set of 3 pathways for how the U.S. could cut economy-wide emissions by 80% (relative to 2005 levels) by mid-century.
Why it matters: Right now, climate politics are unexpectedly hot, but federal policymaking is largely frozen. But that could change with the 2020 elections, and states are already a hotbed of activity.
The big picture: "Decarbonizing the U.S. economy requires fundamental shifts in the ways we generate energy, produce goods, deliver services, and manage lands," it states.
The intrigue: Here's the glass half-full (or empty) part. There are multiple ways to get there, and the report looks widely at not just federal actors, but also the contributions of state and local governments, corporate decisions, tech development and consumer preferences.
What's next: Reports on policy always force the question of what's actually feasible, which brings me to something else on my screen.
Over at Vox, David Roberts looks at how Democrats, if they gain the Senate and White House in 2020, might use the complicated process known as budget reconciliation to advance climate policy.
ExxonMobil and Chevron, the biggest U.S.-based global oil giants, will face pressure to do more on climate change at their annual shareholders meetings today.
Why it matters: Investors have been pushing for climate-related commitments on the industry overall, but Exxon and Chevron have been less willing than European counterparts like Shell and BP.
Where it stands: Among other votes, resolutions urging creation of a board committee on climate change will come up at both meetings.
What's next: I'd be surprised if they pass over their boards' recommendations to vote no, but will be watching to see how much support they garner.
Go deeper: Exxon, Chevron to Face Climate Change Pressure From Investors (Bloomberg)
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Speaking of Big Oil, Lightsource BP, which is the company's utility-scale solar arm, and the Alabama Municipal Electric Authority on Wednesday announced a $125 million, 100-megawatt project.
The critical role of rare earth minerals in modern manufacturing has turned them into the latest lightning rod in the trade war between China and the U.S., Axios' Dion Rabouin reports.
Why it matters: These minerals and elements are necessary components of tech and defense tools, including smartphones, LED lights, wind turbines and nuclear rods.
Driving the news: After President Trump blacklisted Chinese tech company Huawei and threatened to target other Chinese tech firms by disallowing American companies to do business with them, China signaled it could target rare earth minerals.
Threat level: Pushing beyond tariffs and into outright restrictions on trade and international cooperation would take the trade war to a new and more damaging level for individual companies and the stock market.
A little-known electric truck company's plan to launch production at a shuttered GM plant in Ohio is hardly a sure thing, the New York Times reports.
Why it matters: The plan, announced in early May with few details, is bound up in the politics of GM's controversial restructuring and layoffs.
But, but, but: Via the NYT, "The new venture, whose name remains secret, exists almost entirely on paper. Headed by the founder and former chief executive of Workhorse, Steve Burns, the business would have to raise at least $300 million to get Lordstown running again."
The intrigue: Burns declined to tell the NYT whether he's raised money. Workhorse, meanwhile, is "barely hanging on" and had less than $3 million in cash at the end of March, the paper reports.
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Speaking of GM and EVs, CNN reports: "General Motors, America's largest automaker, and Bechtel, the country's largest construction company, are teaming up to build thousands of electric vehicle fast-charging stations across the United States."
The International Energy Agency is out with its annual look at the global state of play for electric vehicles.
Why it matters: It's got all kinds of interesting big-picture data, like the chart above showing China's EV dominance, plus lots of finer-grain info too.
A new Rystad Energy note this morning shows the financial challenges facing shale drillers even as production rises from the bountiful resource.
By the numbers: The consultancy looked at 40 shale-specific players.
Why it matters: It's another sign of how companies in the shale patch have struggled to translate the big resource into returns for investors.
What they're saying: “Recently released data, which confirmed dismal first quarter earnings, only served to cement negative market sentiment,” Rystad analyst Alisa Lukash said in the note.