Good morning and welcome back! We're just a few days past the 1987 release date of the Tom Waits' album "Frank's Wild Years," so he'll play us into today's edition...
EPA's proposal to weaken climate rules for power plants will do little to blunt the forces undercutting coal in electricity markets, several analysts told me yesterday.
Why it matters: President Trump has made efforts to cut regulations on coal — which is the most carbon-intensive power source — a centerpiece of his energy agenda.
Yes, but: The administration has few tools to make substantial changes to the trajectory of the once-dominant fuel's declining share of power markets (see chart above), let alone reverse the trend.
"With [natural] gas prices looking low for the foreseeable future and now unsubsidized renewables starting to look attractive, it is just too little too late for coal."— Joshua Rhodes, energy expert, University of Texas
Driving the news: EPA will unveil draft rules today that would replace the Obama-era Clean Power Plan. The 2015 plan never kicked in, but would have set standards that sought to cut nationwide power-sector carbon emissions by 32% below 2005 levels by 2030.
Reality check: “Most coal plant retirements have been based on poor economics, not on smokestack limitations,” electricity consultant Alison Silverstein says. Referring to the way power market regulators order specific generation sources to meet demand, she adds:
“Coal is still going to be more expensive per kilowatt-hour than gas, wind, solar PV, so that coal will still be higher on the dispatch stack and won’t be dispatched more.”
Go deeper: Read the full story in the Axios stream.
Axios' Dan Primack takes stock of the New York Times report that SpaceX may help CEO Elon Musk finance his attempted buyout of Tesla.
Take it away, Dan...
Bottom line: It's possible, but SpaceX shareholders would throw a fit if it's done directly.
Another possibility under consideration is that SpaceX, Mr. Musk’s rocket company, would help bankroll the Tesla privatization and would take an ownership stake in the carmaker, according to people familiar with the matter.
What they're saying: Dan spoke to several SpaceX shareholders, who told him the following...
Read Dan's whole story in the Axios stream.
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Speaking of Tesla, the Wall Street Journal has a detailed story about some suppliers' concerns about the company.
Electric vehicles, part 1: A new blog post at UC-Berkeley's Energy Institute at Haas argues that as as federal officials ease auto mileage rules that would have benefitted EVs, more robust investments in charging networks can help states keep adoption moving forward.
Digital mining: Over at The Conversation, the University of Pittsburgh's Katrina Kelly-Pitou writes that discussion around the large and growing energy thirst of bitcoin mining has become "oversimplified."
Oil: Per Reuters, "U.S. producer ConocoPhillips and Venezuela’s PDVSA have reached a payment agreement over a $2 billion arbitration, the companies said on Monday, suspending a dispute that blocked the state-run company from exporting oil from most of its key Caribbean facilities."
Crude exports from the port district of Houston-Galveston surpassed imports in April for the first time on record, the federal Energy Information Administration said in a report Monday.
By the numbers: Per EIA, exports from Houston-Galveston exceeded imports by 15,000 barrels per day in April. In May, the difference swelled to 470,000 bpd.
Why it matters: The data from the busy industrial region, which accounts for the largest share of U.S. crude exports, highlights the transformation of the country's energy market position in recent years.
A new paper from George Washington University scholars analyzes nearly 900 climate-related lawsuits in a variety of venues decided between 1990 and 2016.
Why it matters: The courts have long been influential in shaping the scope and success of climate and energy policies, and that's not going to change.
What they found: Decisions around renewable energy and efficiency policies favored pro-regulatory litigants more often than cases around coal-fired power plants, according to the analysis in Nature Climate Change. They also say...
The intrigue: The paper arrives following dismissal of federal court cases in New York and California in which cities sought to use nuisance claims to force major oil companies to pay damages for effects of climate change like sea-level rise.