And happy birthday to Tom Waits, whose genius brings us into the weekend...
And happy birthday to Tom Waits, whose genius brings us into the weekend...
Oil markets are on pins and needles this morning as OPEC members and Russia haggle in Vienna over potential output curbs.
Why it matters: The behind-the-scenes drama signals the challenge of getting the countries on the same page, so they can seek to lift prices by tightening a market that's awash in crude.
Where it stands: Well, that's not so clear as we sent this newsletter amid reports of haggling over how far Russia is willing to go.
Saudi oil minister Khalid al-Falih said after yesterday's sessions that he's not confident a deal can be reached, according to multiple reports.
As for Russia, Reuter's story cites a Russian source saying that the country has increased its offer and is willing to cut up to 200,000 barrels per day, but that OPEC delegates want them to go even higher.
The U.S. narrowly became a net exporter of crude oil and petroleum products combined for the first time in decades last week, preliminary federal data shows.
Why it matters: It's a stark sign of the re-emergence of the U.S. as a global oil market powerhouse — even if, as Bloomberg notes, it may only mark a brief return to the net exporter ranks for now.
In particular, oil from shale formations has added millions of barrels of daily production over the last decade, and a 2015 law that ended a ban on crude oil exports is sending more and more of those barrels overseas.
By the numbers: Net U.S exports of crude oil and refined products averaged 211,000 barrels per day last week, according to rough Energy Information Administration data.
The tally includes...
The big picture: It's the first time that the U.S. has been a net exporter in EIA's weekly data that goes back to 1991.
Yes, but: The milestone does not signal that the U.S. is insulated from global energy markets at all, even as domestic crude production is at record levels of far over 11 million barrels per day.
There's another shakeup in Tesla's top ranks.
Driving the news: Tesla announced late Thursday that the prominent trial lawyer Dane Butswinkas, chairman of the Beltway firm Williams & Connolly, is joining the company as general counsel.
Why it matters: It's the latest in a series of moves over the past year or so that have overhauled Tesla's executive team.
Background: The move comes as Tesla and CEO Elon Musk are implementing settlements with the Securities and Exchange Commission reached in late September, which stemmed from Musk's early August statements about the subsequently aborted plan to take Tesla private.
The big picture: CNBC notes that Butswinkas arrives as Tesla is dealing with a series of other regulatory and legal challenges.
There's a bit more in the Axios stream.
A brief new report lays out in stark visual detail how a 2007 law aimed at pushing next-wave, more environmentally friendly biofuels into large-scale deployment hasn't come close to working as planned.
Why it matters: It's a sign of the huge hurdles that have confronted efforts to expand the biofuels market beyond traditional ethanol and biodiesel.
Where it stands: Those large orange-ish bars on the left show the cellulosic biofuels volumes that were supposed to enter the fuel mix under the 2007 expansion of the national biofuels mandate, called the Renewable Fuel Standard.
By the numbers: "Cellulosic biofuels were intended to grow to 16 billion gallons by 2022, but the technology has not matured fast enough to meet the volume standards," EIA notes.
On Capitol Hill: Via Politico, "Senate Democrats are growing more comfortable with giving coal-friendly Sen. Joe Manchin a leading role in shaping climate policy."
Oil-and-gas: The Associated Press explains the latest Interior Department move in the long-running tussle over protections for a key bird species.
Water: "The Trump administration will propose to severely restrict the number of wetlands and waterways covered by the Clean Water Act in an announcement expected next week," reports E&E News, which obtained a copy of EPA talking points.
The Senate's top Democrat is telling President Trump that any infrastructure deal must contain robust moves to bolster zero-carbon energy and build resilience to climate change.
Why it matters: Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer's demand — spelled out in a new Washington Post op-ed — is the latest sign that at least for now, climate is emerging as a priority for Capitol Hill Democrats.
Driving the news: Schumer writes that if Trump wants Democratic support on an infrastructure bill, it must have policies and money that "help transition our country to a clean-energy economy and mitigate the risks the United States already faces from climate change."
Reality check: Infrastructure is perennially floated as an area where there's potential for bipartisan dealmaking. But actually getting a sweeping political deal done is a far, far tougher thing to imagine happening.
Threat level: Schumer's op-ed says Democrats have leverage because they'll control the House and Trump will need 60 votes in the Senate — and therefore Democrats' help there — to get an infrastructure bill through Congress.
Details: In the op-ed and an open letter to Trump, Schumer calls for provisions including . . .
Jim McHugh, CEO of the big power supplier Constellation, pens an Expert Voices piece for Axios ...
U.S. businesses have started to accelerate reductions in their carbon footprints — a major change from just a few years ago, when only early adopters had drafted sustainability goals.
Today, thousands of companies are seeking carbon-free energy sources, with more than 150 firms pledging to transition to 100% renewable energy.
The big picture: Renewable energy certificates (RECs) — which track renewable energy from the point of generation — have been crucial in driving this shift. Increasingly, electricity suppliers are offering ways for businesses to get their power from specific projects or sources, bringing transparency to renewable energy use.
How it works: Led by Apple and Google, big corporations have moved beyond REC procurements to virtual power purchase agreements (VPPAs), which support the development of large-scale, off-site renewable energy projects.
What's new: Electricity suppliers are now letting companies choose offsite renewable power sources and combine energy purchases with RECs, broadening the market.
Broadening sustainability efforts to include all zero-carbon sources, such as nuclear energy, is another way companies are meeting their environmental goals when space or capital are unavailable for on-site renewables.
The bottom line: Electricity suppliers are responding to growing customer demand for clean energy by offering simpler products that let businesses source power from specific offsite renewable projects and other zero-carbon sources.
"The lowest-cost emissions reductions — transitioning from coal generation to natural gas or renewable energy sources like wind and solar — exist in the states least likely to act on climate."
Who said it: Marc Hafstead, director of the Carbon Pricing Initiative at the nonpartisan think tank Resources For the Future.
The context: It's part of his new blog post on the limitations of state and local action on climate change.
Why it matters: "Subnational" climate moves are getting lots of attention these days. A suite of state and local governments are stepping up emissions-cutting efforts amid the White House retreat from Obama-era carbon policies.
But Hafstead cautions that they can only go so far. "[F]ederal action is necessary to achieve cost-effective emissions reductions on par with the Paris Agreement," he writes.