Good morning and welcome back! This month marks the 45th anniversary of the Hall & Oates album "Abandoned Luncheonette."
So with today's intro track we'll wonder what went wrong...
Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios
President Trump offered a blunt — and incomplete — reason for why the administration is granting 8 countries temporary exemptions from sanctions against buyers of Iranian oil.
"I could get the Iran oil down to zero immediately, but it would cause a shock to the market. I don't want to lift oil prices."— President Trump told reporters yesterday
Reality check: The comment underscores the complicated realities behind the get-tough rhetoric coming from the administration on Iran. Iranian exports have already dropped by about a million barrels per day in the run-up to the reimposition of formal sanctions yesterday.
But this new analysis from Richard Nephew, who was a top sanctions official in the Obama administration, explores some reasons why the idea of getting Iran to zero imports or even close isn't really in the cards.
"[I]t is questionable whether further deep cuts will be possible. As a matter of government policy, China and India have refused to consider going to zero, and their purchases may add up to as much as 1 million bpd."— Richard Nephew in Columbia University commentary
This sanctions explainer from the New York Times makes a similar point:
"American officials would need great leverage to induce China and India, Iran’s biggest customers, to cut off all their imports; the two nations have enormous energy needs."
Where it stands: Secretary of State Mike Pompeo yesterday announced temporary exemptions for these countries — China, India, Italy, Greece, Japan, South Korea, Taiwan and Turkey.
What they're saying: “I think the U.S. made the calculation that market stability and geopolitical relationships superseded interests in trying to bring down Iranian exports,” Eurasia Group analyst Henry Rome tells NYT.
What's next: Looking longer term, analyst Ellen Wald, speaking on this Bloomberg podcast, said the waiver decisions mean a delayed reckoning of sorts for the administration.
Go deeper: Trump's Iran bet might be a long shot
Here are two of the state-level election-day showdowns we'll be keeping an eye on...
Washington State: Over at Resources For the Future, Roberton C. Williams III argues that Washington State's proposed carbon fee is better thought of as a green energy spending program than a tax.
Colorado: The consultancy Rystad Energy looks at the Colorado ballot question that would ban oil-and-gas drilling within 2,500 feet of occupied buildings and "vulnerable" areas like parks and water sources. Some points...
Why it matters: While there's plenty of attention to the climate benefits EVs enable by cutting gasoline use, Davis' post points out...
By the numbers: The chart above is based on data he crunched from the Transportation Department's National Household Travel Survey.
Pure electrics are driven an average of 6,300 miles annually, compared to 7,800 miles for plug-in hybrids and 10,200 annual miles for gasoline- and diesel-powered cars.
The intrigue: Davis explores several potential reasons for what he calls "surprising" results, including . . .
The bottom line: Davis says the data make the case for higher gasoline taxes. "Making gasoline more expensive would incentivize EVs for all drivers, but the biggest incentive would be for people who drive a lot of miles."
Trump yesterday offered not-quite-full-throated support yesterday for Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke.
Why it matters: The comments signal that Zinke may not be on entirely sure footing amid multiple inspector general probes and reports of a Justice Department inquiry.
The intrigue: The Washington Post reported on a new wrinkle yesterday...
"Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke continued to engage in discussions involving his family foundation’s property in summer 2017 despite the fact that he had pledged to recuse himself from such matters for a year, according to documents obtained by The Washington Post."
The big picture: Politico published a state-of-the-ship piece on Zinke last night. They report...
"Allies inside and outside the administration have begun to distance themselves from Zinke."
"But even as those problems mushroomed, a former White House official told Politico on Monday, Zinke continued to pitch himself for more prominent jobs in Trump’s administration — including as a possible replacement for [Scott] Pruitt at EPA."
In yesterday's item about the Climate Leadership Council (CLC), I noted that their carbon tax plan would also "shield fossil fuel companies from tort claims on climate."
Yes, but: A source with the organization tells me via email (emphasis added), "Our plan is still being developed. It will not provide immunity against all climate tort claims."
For the record: The website of Americans for Carbon Dividends, a lobbying and advocacy offshoot of the CLC, puts it like this: "Robust carbon fees would also make possible an end to federal and state tort liability for emitters."
The big picture: This is all in the super-hypothetical realm now because carbon taxes don't have any political traction inside the Beltway.