We're two days from the moment 45 years ago when Stevie Wonder's "Superstition" topped the Billboard Hot 100 charts. So let's make that brilliant piece of work today's intro tune . . .
Illustration: Rebecca Zisser / Axios
My Axios colleague Amy Harder reports...
Proponents of acting on climate change are divided over whether lawsuits that New York City and several California municipalities are filing against big oil companies will do anything to tackle the problem.
Bottom line: The contrasting viewpoints illustrate the challenges facing climate proponents. Even among those who agree that climate change must be addressed, big disagreements persist about how to solve it. And this is without the other Herculean task of getting Republicans lawmakers to publicly acknowledge the problem.
Driving the news: In interviews for Amy's latest Harder Line column this week, some experts said the lawsuits were distracting and far-fetched. Backers of the lawsuits, meanwhile, responded by saying the past is important in dictating future solutions.
The background: New York Mayor Bill De Blasio and others are suing big oil companies, alleging they knew decades ago their products were causing climate change, but concealed that and funded advocacy groups opposing climate policies. The lawsuits allege the companies are liable for billions of dollars of damage caused by rising global temperatures.
Click here for the whole story.
Cars, infrastructure and Congress: A senior General Motors official will tell a Senate panel this morning that lawmakers can "help sustain continued growth" in electric vehicle adoption, according to testimony obtained by Axios.
One reason it matters: The hearing on advanced vehicles arrives as Congress and the White House are gearing up to try and craft a major infrastructure package in the coming months. Gross, GM's director of advanced vehicle commercialization policy, is also expected to say:
"This early market currently requires continued partnership between electric utilities, station operators, vehicle manufacturers and support by federal, state and municipal government to establish charging stations at the same scale as the 168,000+ gas stations across the country."
Toyota's view: A Toyota exec's testimony urges policymakers not to forget about the potential for hydrogen fuel cell vehicles — which is part of their business and R&D — amid all the attention paid to EVs. Robert Wimmer, director of energy and environmental research for the automaker's North American unit, is expected to say:
"To insure the US remains competitive in this space, the federal government needs to take a much more proactive role supporting hydrogen infrastructure growth."
"Without robust federal support for hydrogen infrastructure, possibly part of a national infrastructure program, the numbers of fuel cell vehicles on our roads will remain modest."
Frenemies in Davos: Energy ministers from Saudi Arabia and Russia, seated next to U.S. Energy Secretary Rick Perry on a panel at the World Economic Forum, on Wednesday downplayed the impact of surging U.S. oil production on the global crude market.
Why it matters: The U.S. boom has forced petro-states including Saudi Arabia and Russia to recalibrate their strategies and restrict output to try and tame the global glut that caused prices to collapse in 2014. OPEC and Russia are part of a production-limiting deal that's slated to run through 2018.
But the remarks in Davos signal how the two massive producers are seeking to show that the U.S. is not a long-term threat to their stature, remarks that in the Saudi's case come as they're planning for the IPO of state oil giant Aramco.
“In the overall global supply-demand picture, it is not going to wreck the train. We should not be scared."— Saudi Arabia energy minister Khalid al-Falih
“We should not be afraid of shale oil production in general."— Russia energy minister Alexander Novak, speaking on the same panel
By the numbers: On Wednesday, the U.S. Energy Information Administration reported that U.S. production reached an average of 9.88 million barrels per day in the week ending Jan. 19 (see chart above).
Go deeper: Click here for the whole story in the Axios stream.
State of the market: Brent crude oil prices cracked $71 for the first time since December of 2014 on Thursday. Reuters unpacks the reasons why, noting the weakening dollar, falling U.S. stockpiles, and the OPEC-Russia production-limiting deal.
In flux: In Davos the Saudi energy minister signaled that months-long whispers about a delay in Aramco's massive IPO, which is tentatively scheduled for the second half of this year, may be correct. “The company will be listed when the time is right," al-Falih said onstage.
Shell's future: Fortune has a deep dive into the Dutch behemoth's moves to prepare for a lower-carbon future — such as getting deeper into the renewables and EV space — and avoid stranded high-cost oil assets.
Distributed generation: The Silicon Valley startup EtaGen, which makes advanced commercial onside power generators for businesses, said Wednesday that it has raised $83 million in series C funding.
Solar trade fallout: The Washington Post looks at the Capitol Hill fallout of the White House decision to impose new import tariffs on solar panel equipment and washing machines.
Auto regulations: The Wall Street Journal has the latest on the tensions between California and the Trump administration over Obama-era emissions and mileage rules that EPA may scale back...
Offshore drilling: Via the Tampa Bay Times, Florida lawmakers from both parties are pressing Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke about whether he really meant it when he said Florida is off the table for new offshore oil-and-gas leasing.
Over in the Expert Voices section of the Axios stream, the Atlantic Council's David Livingston argues that there's a major weakness in the U.S. energy posture despite surging oil and natural gas production. Here's more of his item...
Warning signs: The U.S. is losing ground in the race to dominate fast-growing advanced energy markets, particularly in light of the White House's decision to impose 30% tariffs on solar panel imports — grabbing a larger slice of a shrinking pie through trade barriers while other countries capture new opportunities.
Competition: Saudi Arabia intends to invest $7 billion in renewable projects this year, while a Saudi industrial group is already developing 5 gigawatts of renewable projects globally, with a major focus on Latin America.
China is set to account for more than half of global solar deployment and electric vehicle sales this year.
The big picture: Add to this the fact that the U.S. will soon fall behind China in overall R&D spending, and the picture of an energy-rich, yet complacent, America emerges.