Good morning and welcome back! Today's Smart Brevity count: 1,166 words, 4 min read.
And happy birthday (a day late) to Mark Knopfler, whose killer work with Dire Straits opens today's edition...
Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios
A new peer-reviewed study finds substantial health benefits in Rust Belt states when utilities are required to supply escalating amounts of renewable power. The researchers modeled existing mandates and what happens if they're made more stringent.
Why it matters: The paper in Environmental Research Letters explores the regional effects of energy policies that reduce fine particulates — which cause cardiovascular ailments — in the air by displacing coal-fired power.
What they did: MIT researchers compared costs and benefits of state policies called renewable portfolio standards (RPS) in Ohio, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin and other states — and the effects of making them tougher.
What they found: Maintaining the requirements would bring health benefits of $4.7 billion in 2030 compared to costs of $3.5 billion in their central scenario.
The intrigue: The study also provides new comparisons to carbon pricing.
But, but, but: That comparison to CO2 pricing has big caveats. Among them...
Leah Stokes of the University of California, Santa Barbara called the linkage of economic modeling with atmospheric chemistry an important contribution.
Why it matters: “That allows for a much richer understanding of how energy decisions affect public health," said Stokes, an expert in state-level renewables policies.
The bottom line: She noted that the paper models increases in renewables requirements in a region where the existing mandates are not aggressive.
If you went into yesterday's Saudi Aramco earnings webcast hoping for more insight into its long-planned, repeatedly delayed IPO, you left with as many questions as answers.
The big picture: Khalid H. Al-Dabbagh, Aramco's senior VP of finance, told analysts that "the company is ready for the IPO."
But, but, but: That "shareholder," of course, is the Saudi government. Aramco is saying, in so many words, "it's not our call."
Nonetheless, the decision to hold its first-ever earnings call can be seen as a test run of sorts for the greater transparency that would come with being a public company.
The intrigue: Oil analyst Ellen Wald writes in Forbes, "big questions concerning the strength of the company as a possible investment for outsiders remains unaddressed."
The bottom line: "If Aramco makes its lucrative dividend available to shareholders other than the Saudi government, then Aramco shares could prove highly valuable," she writes.
During our break last week, Uber and Lyft released a consultant's study they commissioned on how much their services are adding to vehicle miles traveled (VMT) in several major metro areas.
Why it matters: The analysis arrives amid wider research showing how the growth of ride-hailing is adding to congestion.
What they found: Check out the chart above, which shows the study's conclusions about Uber and Lyft's combined contributions to VMT.
The big picture: "This study found that overall VMT share at the metropolitan level and at the core county level consists overwhelmingly of non-Transportation Network Company (TNC, shorthand for Uber and Lyft) traffic — that is, personal and commercial vehicles for the six regions studied," writes Uber's Chris Pangilinan.
But, but, but: Populus CEO Regina Clewlow, whose company provides a transportation data analytics platform for local governments, tells me that increased VMT doesn't tell the whole story about ride-hailing's effect on congestion.
Go deeper: How much traffic do Uber and Lyft cause? (CityLab)
Endangered species: Via the New York Times, "The Trump administration on Monday announced that it would change the way the Endangered Species Act is applied, significantly weakening the nation’s bedrock conservation law and making it harder to protect wildlife from the multiple threats posed by climate change."
Electric vehicles: The Wall Street Journal reports that two giant automakers "see no future for hybrids in their U.S. lineups."
Oil-and-gas: The Houston Chronicle reports on the unusual story of an oil company that made quite a pivot.