Welcome to Wednesday! And happy birthday to Credence Clearwater Revival's Stu Cook, whose band is reunited in today's intro tune . . .
Tuesday brought both a new EPA science policy that conservatives cheered and more ominous headlines for the embattled agency boss Scott Pruitt, who faces a suite of ethics controversies.
Between the lines: The combination highlights why Pruitt's fate is hard to predict. He's forging ahead with policies that conservative and some business interests have long sought, yet there are fresh signs of eroding GOP support.
What's happening: Pruitt proposed rules that limit the types of scientific studies used to inform regulations by requiring that the data is publicly available for "validation and analysis."
Yes, but: Tuesday also brought fresh signs of political peril for Pruitt thanks to the scandals around spending, his living arrangement last year and more.
Publicly the White House has been more circumspect, praising Pruitt's policy moves while noting that they're investigating the questions around him.
What's next: Pruitt testifies tomorrow before two House committees.
They're off: Statoil, the Norway-based global oil giant, reported $1.47 billion in adjusted first quarter profits on Wednesday amid higher oil prices. That's above the $1.1 billion in the same period last year, but several outlets noted it was below expectations.
A couple more petro-notes...
Drilling: Via The Houston Chronicle, "Royal Dutch Shell said Tuesday it's authorizing the multibillion-dollar Vito project in the deepwater Gulf of Mexico — the first major Gulf project announced this year."
State of the market: Traders will be watching DOE data on U.S. oil stockpiles to be announced late this morning.
My Axios colleague Kia Kokalitcheva reports...
Backstory: A decade ago, Kleiner Perkins made a lot of headlines for the disappointing results of its enthusiastic cleantech investing.
Green trend: G2VP says it’s backing startups that are “digitizing industry” rather than focusing on cleantech like renewable energy, as it used to be trendy. Other veteran investors in the sector are also taking these alternative approaches to investing in green tech.
My Axios colleague Amy Harder reports...
Speaking at an Axios event Tuesday, former Vice President Al Gore likened climate change activism to a suite of other morally driven movements — such as gay rights and abolishing slavery.
"Every great morally based movement that has advanced the prospects for humanity has been led in significant measure by young people. I see this climate movement in the context of these previous movements, [such as the] abolition of slavery," Gore said.
Yes, but: Sociology experts say climate is unique in a way that makes it harder to rally around.
What we’re hearing: Robert Brulle, a sociologist at Drexel University, cited a 2017 study by Stanford's Doug McAdam that concluded climate change “has spawned surprisingly little grassroots activism in the contemporary United States.” McAdam said there are a few factors for that, such as Republicans denying the issue is a problem and lobbying by fossil-fuel companies.
Go deeper: Click here for the whole story in the Axios stream.
The health and air-quality benefits of Chinese efforts to slash carbon emissions will largely or even fully offset the costs of the climate initiatives, a new paper in Nature Climate Change by MIT scholars shows.
Why it matters: China, the world's largest greenhouse gas emitter, has pledged to have its carbon emissions peak by 2030 and ideally sooner.
Big picture: Steps that lower carbon, like moving away from coal, typically reduce traditional pollutants that directly damage health too, like fine particulates and sulfur dioxide.
What they found: The paper models the effect of using carbon pricing to achieve CO2 intensity cuts of 3%, 4%, and 5% annually through 2030 (with the 4% figure as a proxy for meeting China's Paris pledge).
Quick take: Politically, the research confirms why Chinese officials have their own internal reasons to cut CO2 even though the U.S. is abandoning Paris and disengaging internationally on climate.
Oil giant Total and Google Cloud have a new partnership to develop artificial intelligence applications that help assess oil-and-gas reservoirs.
The details: The companies agreed, per a Total statement, to develop AI programs that will:
The bottom line: The tech will allow Total scientists to explore and assess oil-and-gas fields more quickly and effectively, the France-based multinational giant said.
Thought bubble: The news recalls a point that Christof Rühl, head of research at the Abu Dhabi Investment Authority, made last year — that for all the attention paid to tech advances in clean energy, better tech is a boon to fossil fuel extraction too.