Happy Monday, did you miss us on May Day? Feels more like mayday in this grave new world.
Axios is hosting a live virtual event on gene therapy and the future of disease treatment today at 12:30pm ET.
Photo illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios. Photos: Win McNamee/Getty Images
Breaking from other progressives, Rev. Jesse Jackson is calling to build a natural gas pipeline to serve an impoverished community near Chicago.
Why it matters: This is one example of the complex tug of war between energy affordability and tackling climate change. The tension is poised to grow as America and much of the world careen into pandemic-fueled recessions.
Driving the news: The move puts Jackson at odds with some Democrats and environmentalists who oppose fossil fuels because they drive climate change. The famous civil rights activist says the largely black community is being unfairly cut off from affordable energy.
The intrigue: For several months Jackson has been working with local, state and federal officials in Illinois to get an $8.2 million, 30-mile natural gas pipeline built for a community in a rural part of Illinois 65 miles south of Chicago.
Where it stands: The area has about 400 homes, no manufacturing and only a few commercial establishments, said Mark Hodge, mayor of Hopkins Park, a town in the region.
While natural gas is cheaper per unit of energy compared to other forms, the upfront cost is typically a deal-breaker in rural areas not already connected to a pipeline network — regardless of the income level and race of people living there.
By the numbers: Under current regulations, customers seeking natural gas access often have to pay for at least part of the cost of getting that service.
What we’re watching: A bill pending in the state legislature would designate Pembroke as a “designated hardship area,” which would allow a company (in this case Nicor) to pay for the entire cost of the pipeline, not just part of it.
Two Brookings Institution analysts say it's possible to revive the economy while maintaining the benefits of greatly reduced traffic — but only with important policy changes.
Why it matters: The radical decline in movement during the pandemic has caused steep reductions in car travel.
The big picture: "[T]he COVID-19 lockdown has enabled the country to execute a transportation experiment at an almost unfathomable scale," write Adie Tomer and Lara Fishbane in this new post.
By the numbers: Their piece gets to the scale of the driving decline, though traffic is already rebounding, as this Apple proxy data shows.
What's next: As states begin easing restrictions, they call for several steps.
Power giant Southern California Edison has signed contracts to procure 770 megawatts of battery storage projects that are slated to come online in the summer of 2021.
Why it matters: That's a lot! The seven projects appear to comprise largest battery storage procurement announcement ever, per battery wonks talking about it here.
The big picture: Most of the projects will be co-located with existing solar power plants, underscoring how batteries can help ensure renewable power is stored and then deployed during times of high demand.
Oil producers' plans to throttle back output — including cuts to U.S. shale — in the face of the price and demand collapse have come into sharper focus.
Driving the news: ExxonMobil said Friday it's cutting production in the prolific Permian basin by 100,000 barrels per day in the second quarter as part of wider plans to curb 400,000 barrels per day of oil equivalent in Q2.
Meanwhile, U.S. rival Chevron said Friday that its curtailing global output by 200,000 to 300,000 barrels of oil equivalent this month and going as high as 400,000 next month.
The big picture: Those are two cases of companies of all sizes are cutting back as production in the U.S., the world's top producer, goes into reverse.
Catch up fast: Bloomberg published a company-by-company list of cutbacks and notes that U.S. production has already fallen by an estimated 1 million barrels per day since mid-March.
We're learning more about federal efforts to aid struggling oil producers.
Driving the news: "The Federal Reserve on Thursday changed the terms for its Main Street Lending Program, making it easier for oil companies to borrow from a fund meant to help small and midsize companies hurt by the coronavirus pandemic," Roll Call reports.
The big picture: The global production cutbacks, and signs that the worst of the demand collapse may be over, have helped to boost prices since the April troughs.
What we don't know: Are more financial aid efforts in the offing from the Trump administration?
Australia: "Westpac Banking Corp. said it would exit the sector by 2030, leaving Australia and New Zealand Banking Group Ltd. as the last of the country’s big four yet to commit to dropping the most polluting fuel." (Bloomberg)
India: Reuters looks at April data for the country and reports that "Electricity generation from coal — India’s primary source of electricity — fell 32.3% to 1.91 billion units per day, with its contribution to overall electricity generation falling to 65.5%, compared with an average of over 73.7% last year."
U.S.: "Last month, the largest round of coal mine layoffs in years swept through the Powder River Basin, the state’s epicenter of coal production, with over 300 miners losing their jobs." (Casper Star-Tribune)