Good morning and welcome back! The Harder Line, my colleague Amy Harder's weekly column, will be back next Monday.
Ok let's get going. A previously unreleased, piano-only studio demo of Guns N' Roses' "November Rain" is out in the world and it's really cool. So that's today's intro tune ...
A series of weekend statements about OPEC and Saudi Arabia from the Trump administration are helping to put downward pressure on oil prices.
The big picture: More broadly, the comments signal White House unease about the election-year state of oil markets and the limits to what they can do about it, despite the surge in U.S. shale production.
Head-spinning: To recap the weekend action...
Thought bubble: As Axios' Steve LeVine noted yesterday, Trump's talk with Salman put the U.S. back in the pre-shale age, when presidents routinely went to the Saudis asking and sometimes pleading for boosts or cuts in production for U.S. economic purposes.
Yes, but: The White House may have yielded some benefit from the busy weekend. The Wall Street Journal reported Sunday afternoon that White House aides saw the call as helpful...
Made it: Tesla CEO Elon Musk said the company reached its target of making 5,000 Model 3s per week at the end of June, according to an email obtained by the tech site Electrek and verified by Axios with Tesla.
Why it matters: Achieving the 5000-per-week production level for the Model 3 during the second quarter was vital for Tesla, even if it came a few hours late. The company has previously fallen short of production targets during the slower-than-expected ramp-up.
Market reaction: The company's stock is up by almost 6% in pre-market trading on Monday.
Yes, but: Longer term, it remains to be seen how much confidence among investors and analysts that the success in hitting the deadline will create.
What's next: Per Bloomberg, Musk's email says Model 3 production may rise to 6,000 per week next month.
Mexico's makeover: Over at the Atlantic Council, David Goldwyn looks at what Andrés Manuel López Obrador's (AMLO's) election means for the 2013 overhaul of Mexico's energy sector that enabled new private investment and other changes.
Why it matters: The election is a seismic political shift in a country that has deep two-way energy ties with the U.S., including major U.S. gas exports to Mexico, as well as imports of heavy crude.
A few takeaways from Goldwyn, who is chairman of the Atlantic’s Global Energy Center Advisory Group...
1. The Trump effect: Goldwyn notes that Trump's threat to withdraw from NAFTA, aggressive immigration posture, and insulting comments about Mexicans could influence AMLO.
2. AMLO's limits: The 2013 reforms included constitutional and statutory changes that can't be undone unilaterally, and AMLO intends to honor existing contracts.
What's next: The piece offers some advice for the White House and the new Mexican regime. Click here for more.
Amy reports ... More than 20 conservative groups are urging the Trump administration to oppose an Obama-era climate policy that has backing from major chemical companies, some Republican lawmakers and even a few other conservative groups.
Why it matters: It’s among first public efforts to oppose the policy, which phases down refrigerants in appliances that emit powerful greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. It also exposes a rift among conservative interest groups, corporations and congressional Republicans, which more often than not take the same side on environmental issues.
The details: A new letter, organized by the Competitive Enterprise Institute with support from other national and state-based groups, says the policy would make air conditioning prohibitively expensive and not make a big difference in combating climate change.
Flashback: The Obama administration helped broker the policy in October 2016 as an amendment to the Montreal Protocol, an environmental treaty created more than 30 years ago to mend the hole in the Earth’s ozone layer.
Between the lines: Most conservative groups oppose government policies mandating changes in the market, while some companies making replacement refrigerants see a competitive advantage, so they’re supporting it. Republicans in Congress, influenced by both the interest groups and companies, are caught in the middle.
What’s next: The administration would need to send the amendment to the Senate for its review and ultimate vote for approval. There’s no deadline to do this, but backers of the policy hope it happens by year-end.
Solar: Via Bloomberg, a new forecast Monday from Bloomberg New Energy Finance suggests the global solar power growth might be lower this year.
Efficiency tech: Per Greentech Media, "Researchers at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory are working with manufacturers to commercialize a triple-glazed 'super window' that’s at least twice as insulating as the most common window sold in the United States today."
Batteries: Reuters reports that auto giant BMW awarded a roughly $1.6 billion contract to Chinese lithium battery maker Contemporary Amperex Technology.
Climate: Via the Financial Times, "Countries that are vulnerable to climate change are paying significantly more to borrow from the financial markets, according to new research, as investors price in the risks."
A conservative think tank is out with new research concluding that carbon taxes bring fewer economic burdens and more carbon cuts than "command and control" regulations.
Why it matters: The American Action Forum (AAF) doesn't advocate for specific policies. But the findings come as some former GOP officials aligned with other organizations — notably the Climate Leadership Council and a new lobbying offshoot — are trying to create political momentum for a tax.
What they found: AAF analysts modeled the long-term effects of a hypothetical carbon tax that starts at $25 per ton and increases 5% annually, and conclude — based on their assumptions about the effect of Obama-era regulations — that it would be "more than twice as cost-effective."
The intrigue: Their analysis, like several others, favors an approach that offsets the impact of a carbon tax with reductions in other taxes.
In their words: "Simply put, a directly imposed, purely additive carbon tax could have harsh economic consequences, but a revenue-neutral carbon tax designed to minimize such consequences (i.e. via a corporate tax swap) could result in GDP changes that are only marginally detrimental, if not beneficial," states AAF analysts Philip Rossetti, Dan Bosch and Dan Goldbeck.
The big picture: Carbon taxes have no political traction in Washington right now and the White House is moving to unwind Obama-era rules. But the new paper adds to growing policy design options that could guide future administrations.