Welcome back readers. Today's Smart Brevity count: 1,241 words, a 4.5-minute read.
Situational awareness: Domestic violence appears to be worsening during the COVID-19 crisis.
🎵And finally, a belated happy birthday to Midnight Oil frontman Peter Garrett. They'll play us into the weekend...
The coronavirus pandemic is accelerating a years-long decline in coal-fired electricity, Axios' Amy Harder reports.
Driving the news: Weaker demand and super-low natural gas prices, both driven by the pandemic, have prompted coal to drop to just 15% of the U.S. electricity mix for the first time in modern history, per new analysis of government data by consultancy Rhodium Group.
Flashback: A decade ago, coal powered nearly 50% of America’s electricity, by far the largest share.
Two factors are driving coal’s relative demise now compared to other power sources.
Of note: The chart above excludes natural gas, the largest source of electricity, because it’s stayed relatively constant in this time frame, as has hydropower and nuclear power.
What we're watching: Is this a temporary blip downward for coal that will change once shutdowns are lessened or will this acceleration cement a permanent new low?
Royal Dutch Shell paid the American Petroleum Institute, the industry's most powerful lobbying group, at least $12.5 million in 2019, the oil giant revealed.
Driving the news: The tally, which Shell tells Axios is consistent with recent years, shows up in a report Shell published yesterday on its trade group memberships.
Why it matters: The report, posted the same day Shell announced new climate pledges, provides a look at how much a major oil company pays to be part of various associations.
Where it stands: Shell's first-time publication of the per-group payments arrives in an update to its April 2019 report that lays out areas where it disagrees with the posture of some associations.
The intrigue: The outcome includes staying with the Western States Petroleum Association, a group that BP abandoned in February, saying they were "unable to reconcile" their views.
If you're in the market for a sense of how much the coronavirus pandemic is crushing oil consumption, we've got more evidence.
Driving the news: U.S. jet fuel demand is at its lowest level in decades, Amy reports, citing weekly data that dates back to 1991, which you can see in the chart above.
By the numbers: The consultancy Rystad Energy updated their global demand reduction estimates this week for oil overall and separate fuel categories.
The huge oil producer ConocoPhillips said yesterday that it would cut its North American oil production by 225,000 barrels per day and slash capital spending more deeply than it planned even a month ago.
Why it matters: It's North America's "largest pandemic-related oil cutback to date," Bloomberg reports, noting it amounts to over a fourth of the company's production in the continent.
The big picture: It's the latest sign of spending and production-cutting plans as the COVID-19 pandemic crushes demand and prices.
What they're saying: A Barclays note this week lays out how the oil industry's retrenchment is hammering oilfield services companies.
Illustration: Rebecca Zisser/Axios
Early evidence suggests public transit will struggle to recover from the pandemic, according to Bloomberg's Nathaniel Bullard.
Driving the news: He looks at data in post-lockdown traffic in China and finds that by early March it was above the levels from a year earlier.
Why it matters: It's an early data point in what will be a complicated question going forward, which is how the coronavirus crisis may affect long-term oil and electricity use — and what it means for carbon emissions.
But, but, but: As we noted late last month, some analysts believe that what's now enforced behavior that cuts oil demand — notably working from home and avoiding flying — could stick around to some extent when the pandemic ends.
Regulations: "The Trump administration on Thursday gutted an Obama-era rule that compelled the country’s coal plants to cut back emissions of mercury and other human health hazards, a move designed to limit future regulation of air pollutants from coal- and oil-fired power plants." (AP)
Research: "A vast region of the western United States, extending from California, Arizona and New Mexico north to Oregon and Idaho, is in the grips of the first climate change-induced megadrought observed in the past 1,200 years, a study shows." (The Washington Post)
EU policy: "European Green Deal investments will remain a priority as part of the EU's efforts to jump-start its economy after the coronavirus pandemic lockdowns, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said Thursday." (S&P Global Platts)