Good morning and welcome back! We'll get to the energy news in a moment. But last night brought a political earthquake in Alabama and the Beltway, and the Axios team has lots of smart, concise, frequently updated coverage on our website.
Ok, let's dive in . . .
Heading to Washington: Now that Democrat Doug Jones has pulled off a surprise win in Alabama's Senate race, let's look at his energy and climate views (topics that were hardly front and center in the race). Details will certainly emerge soon, but for now...
Big picture: “The consequences of our unchecked use of fossil fuels for our planet and our health have been clear for decades. Period. Clean air and clean water are not controversial. They are essential to our health, our prosperity, and our quality of life," his website states.
Coal transition: Jones emphasizes that he's the grandson of a coal miner and says he's got “enormous sympathy" for employment losses in Alabama, which as of 2015 was the nation's 15th-biggest coal producer.
Paris: The site also criticizes President Trump's decision to pull the U.S. out of the Paris climate agreement, attacking the decision on broader geo-strategic grounds by noting that it has “moved us further from the international community."
Saudi Aramco IPO, part 1: This morning The Wall Street Journal published an interesting story on the geopolitics of the IPO. Citing "people familiar with the matter," WSJ reports:
Saudi Aramco IPO, part 2: Bloomberg has some new info this morning on the financial planning for the offering:
Tea leaves on OPEC strategy: Barclays analysts are out with a wide-ranging note on oil markets this morning that includes some analysis of the OPEC-Russia agreement and how the cartel views U.S. shale.
They take stock of recent news that OPEC plans to signal, in the months ahead, an "exit strategy" from their production-limiting deal with Russia and others.
They also explore how the "supply gap" theory — basically the idea that today's crude glut will give way to tighter markets in years ahead thanks to lower recent capital investments — affects OPEC's thinking about the production deal.
New decision: Breakthrough Energy Ventures, a $1 billion-plus fund launched by Bill Gates and other investors last year, has announced the five broad technology where they will focus their initial investments.
Go deeper: Gates discusses the fund's thinking on these areas a little more in this new blog post.
Crunch time: As House and Senate negotiators work behind the scenes on the tax package, the formal bicameral conference committee will hold a public meeting today.
Nominee under fire: Democrats on the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee say they've uncovered plagiarism in a submission from President Trump's pick to head the White House Council on Environmental Quality.
In a new letter, they cite 18 instances in which written answers from Kathleen Harnett White mirror earlier written submissions from EPA administrator Scott Pruitt and top EPA air quality regulator Bill Wehrum when their nominations were pending.
Nominees on the move: Yesterday the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, with bipartisan support, approved Linda Capuano to head the Energy Information Administration and Tim Petty to be assistant secretary of the Interior for water and science.
On tap today: A House Energy and Commerce subcommittee hearing will explore how the renegotiated of NAFTA could disrupt interlinked North American energy markets.
A little more on the big tax bill . . .
My Axios colleagues are out with a piece that visualizes a much-discussed aspect of tax policy: How current U.S. corporate taxes aren't really as high as they look at first glance.
Check out the chart above and the full story by my colleague Caitlin Owens here.
PepsiCo is the latest company to go public with preliminary plans to buy electric semi-trucks from Tesla, which recently unveiled a rig with plans to begin production in 2019.
Why it matters: While these are not final transactions, the announcements by major companies represent something of a corporate vote of confidence in Tesla despite its recent stumbles scaling up production of its mass-market Model 3 sedan.
The numbers: Reuters reports that the food and beverage giant has reserved 100 of the trucks, the largest reported corporate purchase plan thus far. Walmart has reserved 15 trucks and the trucking company J. B. Hunt Transport Services has also placed orders, among other buyers. Overall reservations to date are at 276, according to Reuters' calculations.
Big picture: If automakers like Daimler and Tesla can eventually succeed in making electric heavy trucks more than just a tiny portion of U.S. and worldwide commercial fleets, that would bring the world closer to a peak in oil demand.
Click here for more in the Axios stream.
* * *
Speaking of Tesla, a newly available filing shows they have expanded their outside lobbying team with the addition of the firm Tai Ginsberg & Associates.
Speaking of EV tech more broadly, Toyota and Panasonic announced Tuesday they're studying creation of a joint automotive battery business to "address growing demand and expectations for electrified vehicles." Reuters has more here.
An EPA official told my colleague Amy Harder yesterday that EPA administrator Scott Pruitt has been in Morocco to talk about the U.S./Morocco trade agreement and how American natural gas can help the Moroccan economy.
Why it matters: Promotion of U.S. natural gas exports has been a pillar of the Trump administration push for U.S. "energy dominance." They have also cited wider use of gas, which produces far less CO2 when burned than coal, as part of their environmental platform. Morocco hosted the UN's climate talks last year.
Between the lines: Pruitt has taken a very broad definition to what his mission is at the agency, whose stated mission is to protect human health and the environment in the U.S. It is not customary for the environmental chief of the U.S. to be touting natural gas as an economic solution to another country.
Also not normal: The EPA has faced criticism for not publicly alerting the administrator's travel ahead of time. It was not previously publicly known that Pruitt was traveling abroad.