Good morning and welcome back! Stops on today's tour include Alaska and Puerto Rico. Thanks for reading and please keep the feedback and ideas flowing to firstname.lastname@example.org. Let's dive in...
Slated for today: The House is scheduled to vote on the Senate's fiscal year 2018 budget resolution, which would enable subsequent filibuster-immune legislation to allow oil drilling in Alaska's Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR) to move forward.
Why it matters: Republicans that have unified control of Washington are closer to allowing oil exploration on the coastal plain of the refuge — possibly holding very large oil reservoirs — than at any time since ANWR bills almost made it to George W. Bush's desk in the 2005-2006 Congress.
Yes, but: There's no guarantee that there will actually be oil production in the remote, environmentally sensitive region. Here are some of the wild cards and known unknowns:
Be smart: Veteran energy analyst Amy Myers Jaffe of UC-Davis provided Axios a few thoughts in an email exchange. She notes that the CEOs of the major integrated oil companies have recently signaled that they're not jazzed about investing in Arctic resources, either onshore or offshore.
Statoil earnings: "Norwegian oil firm Statoil reported on Thursday lower-than-expected earnings due to impairment charges mainly related to lower output from its unconventional onshore assets in North America," Reuters reports.
Go deeper on earnings: The Wall Street Journal sets the table with this feature on the heavy focus these days on oil companies' break-even levels — the oil price needed to cover costs and dividends.
OPEC deal extension: "Saudi Arabian Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman backed the extension of OPEC production cuts beyond March 2018, making it all but certain the cartel and its allies will roll over the curbs at a meeting next month," Bloomberg reports.
Exxon exploration: "A western province in Argentina has given Exxon Mobil permission launch a 35-year shale gas exploration program, with plans for an initial investment of $200 million," the Houston Chronicle reports.
The data above, courtesy of the Bureau of Labor Statistics, shows that jobs as solar panel installers and wind industry technicians are projected to see the biggest growth in percentage terms over the next decade or so.
Why it matters: The data will provide political ammunition for advocates who say that the Trump administration should avoid policies — like new tariffs on solar panel imports — that would undercut sectors that are poised to become even larger economic forces.
Yes, but: Those portions of the wider — and much larger — renewables industry are growing from a relatively small base compared to other industry sectors seeing rapid job growth, as the chart and other BLS data show.
A new analysis from the consulting firm Wood Mackenzie compares the costs of using solar power and liquefied natural gas to replace the petroleum fuel, mostly diesel, that currently supplies power to several thousand islands worldwide.
What they found: LNG, and systems that combine solar and LNG, would already be cheaper on average (though it takes some time to recover up-front capital costs).
Why it matters: Moving away from burning diesel has the potential to reduce costs in island regions where consumers pay high power prices, and also would bring environmental benefits. It's an especially relevant topic as Puerto Rico and other islands must repair and rebuild power networks after devastating storms.
One level deeper: Here's what they envision in 2025 based on modeling that assumes oil prices rise to $68-per-barrel, and solar and battery costs keep falling by 17% and 49% respectively.
Puerto Rico adds wrinkle to tariff fight: I noticed an interesting filing in the U.S. International Trade Commission docket over potential tariffs on imported panel equipment.
Power move: The Wall Street Journal reports that two big power companies, Vistra Energy and Dynegy, are in "advanced talks" to combine and that a deal could arrive as soon as next week.
Power controversy: "The governor of Puerto Rico is requesting an audit into how a small energy company from Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke's Montana hometown won a multimillion-dollar contract to restore power to Puerto Rico," The Hill reports.
EPA chief on the record: Administrator Scott Pruitt chatted with Bloomberg about several things. In one case, he signaled that he's still proceeding with plans for a "red team, blue team" exercise on climate science.
Electric tone: The screenshot above is from Nissan's YouTube page, where they posted a clip with the future sound of their electric vehicles.
Car and Driver's blog has more on it here. "The soothing sound activates between 12 and 19 mph to alert those outside the vehicle that it's in motion. There are specific tones and pitches to distinguish among forward acceleration, braking, and backing up," the magazine notes.