Good morning and welcome back. Happy birthday to The Who's Roger Daltrey. You sound good.
I just love that band, so I may have sprinkled a few song titles and lyrical snippets into today's edition.
Join together: A new coalition of auto suppliers, emissions control industry groups and an aluminum association is launching today that will fight against potential Trump administration moves to significantly weaken vehicle mileage and emissions standards.
Why it matters now: The rollout of the Automotive Technology Leadership Group arrives as the administration is revisiting mandates for model years 2022–2025 — regulations that represent a pillar of Obama-era climate policy.
Quick take: The group that represents equipment manufacturers could be an important voice in the debate, especially because leaders in the White House, EPA and the Transportation Department aren't sympathetic to environmentalists.
Their pitch to Trump: The group argues that upending current policy would risk jobs by eroding the certainty that bolsters manufacturing investment and tech innovation.
Who are you: A bipartisan pair of Beltway vets is coordinating the group. One is Patrick Quinn of the Accord Group, who was a top EPA adviser under former President George H.W. Bush. The other is Chris Miller of the firm AJW, a longtime aide to former Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid.
ExxonMobil disclosed in a filing yesterday that it's abandoning joint ventures with Russian state oil giant Rosneft to drill in Arctic waters, Siberia and the Black Sea as a result of U.S. and European Union sanctions against the Russian firm.
Why it matters: "The move is an about-face for Exxon, which had opposed the sanctions over Russia’s invasion of Crimea and argued they unfairly penalized U.S. companies while allowing foreign energy rivals to operate in the country, the world’s largest oil producer," Reuters notes.
One level deeper: Samuel Lussac, an analyst with Wood Mackenzie, said in a short note Thursday that the move is no surprise at a time of rising sanctions pressure. But it's a blow to Rosneft.
Discoveries: ExxonMobil and partners yesterday announced a seventh discovery in the massive Stabroek Block off Guyana's coast, which adds to prior finds there that Exxon has said total over 3 billion barrels of oil equivalent.
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A legal matter: Via the San Francisco Chronicle, "California communities that are suing oil and gas companies over climate change were dealt a setback when a federal judge denied requests by San Francisco and Oakland to move their cases to state court."
Forever we blend: Via Reuters, "U.S. President Donald Trump on Thursday will gather rivals from the oil and corn industries for the second time this week as the administration seeks elusive common ground on reforms to the nation’s controversial biofuels law."
I'd call that a bargain: A report slated for release later today by the Energy Futures Initiative, a group led by former Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz, will argue that policymakers have a ready source of financing for infrastructure projects, at least of the energy variety.
Sea and sand: Via The Hill, "A federal advisory panel voted Wednesday to recommend that the Trump administration cut royalty rates for offshore drillers by one third."
Let's follow up on something kind of unexpected — the emergence of more ambitious climate policy in the Trump era.
Recent days have brought new opinions about the significance of a provision in the big federal spending deal that expands what had been minor tax credits for carbon capture and storage (CCS) projects.
Psyched: Royal Dutch Shell's climate adviser David Hone, writing for the company's in-house blog, says the provision that expands the credit to $50 per ton of stored carbon from $20 is a potential game-changer for the slow-to-catch-on tech. (It also grew to $35 per ton for CO2 used in enhanced oil recovery from $10).
Julio Friedmann, who was a top official in the Energy Department's fossil energy office under Obama, agrees with Hone on the importance of the provision. They both highlight that even more credits are available for projects that use emerging technologies to directly capture CO2 from the air.
Also psyched: Friedmann has a new blog post titled "We have launched the climate counter-strike." He is "strongly optimistic about this small but critical game-changer that emerged from our conflicted Congress."
Deployment prospects: Kevin Book of ClearView Energy Partners, in an email exchange with Axios, put a finer point on some of the emerging analysis of the provision: Basically that the credits probably won't unleash CO2 capture from coal-fired power plants, but could take hold in other industrial emitting sectors.
Taking the pulse: The publication Utility Dive is out with its big, detailed annual survey of utility employees on the state of the power industry.
Why it's useful: The survey arrives at a time of upheaval in power markets thanks to the rise of new renewables and distributed tech and changes in White House policy. Overall, the survey finds regulatory and policy uncertainty is the biggest concern (40%) of utility professionals.
Here's just one example: The chart above looks at responses to a question on how and whether the government should seek to cut power sector carbon emissions.
Demand: The report also notes that a substantial number of respondents — though not a majority — predict a return of rising power demand after years of stagnation or declines.
Cybersecurity fears rising: "This year, 81% of utility professionals listed cybersecurity as either important or very important."
New policy: EPA administrator Scott Pruitt, facing criticism over his expensive first-class travel habits, tells CBS News that he's heading for coach on his next flight.