Onto music. Axios' Eileen Drage O'Reilly — an editor and writer who makes Generate happen each day — brings us today's music trivia. She says...Yesterday was the anniversary of George Harrison's death, so let's listen to the late Prince and other stars as they honor him in my hometown of Cleveland with "While My Guitar Gently Weeps."
President Trump's pressure campaign on OPEC to keep supply robust, and hence prices relatively low, could bring some tricky domestic political and economic tradeoffs.
The big picture: The Eurasia Group's Robert Johnston, writing for Axios this morning, points out that Trump has broken with his GOP White House predecessor, even though they're both in the drill-baby-drill camp:
"Trump’s ongoing campaign against higher oil prices marks a shift from Republican oil policy in the Bush era, which generally relied more on markets to respond to high prices. Despite the presence of oil-friendly cabinet members such as Rick Perry and Ryan Zinke, Trump has aimed to keep prices low."
The intrigue: As Johnston and others have been pointing out recently, there are ultimately diverging interests among U.S. oil producers and U.S. drivers.
What they're saying: One sign of the times came this week in Scotland. Via S&P Global Platts...
But it's noteworthy that this discussion is happening under a president who campaigned on a very pro-industry platform.
Between the lines: Over at the New York Times, Clifford Krauss has a good distillation of where things stand with Trump's market goals, noting that the president is "playing a tricky game" because a price collapse would hit workers hard in oil-producing states including Texas, Oklahoma and North Dakota.
What's next: All eyes will be on the Dec. 6–7 OPEC meeting.
Axios' Amy Harder reports that Bob Murray, a coal executive who has pushed Trump to financially support economically ailing coal plants, is not so sure it’s going to happen after more than a year of inaction.
Why it matters: One of the cornerstones of Trump’s presidential campaign was to revive American coal, which has declined significantly in the last decade due to competing electricity sources of natural gas and renewables along with tougher environmental rules by then-President Obama.
Driving the news: Last year Trump ordered Energy Secretary Rick Perry to find policies that can financially boost economically struggling coal and nuclear power plants, although no official strategy has emerged.
"I don’t know if it’s going to happen. I don’t know. It’s the government. They are still studying that.”— Bob Murray, CEO, Murray Energy
For the record: An Energy Department spokeswoman declined to comment Thursday evening.
One level deeper: No matter what steps the administration might take, it’s unlikely to substantively and permanently reverse the trends underway in the U.S. coal industry.
Axios' Andrew Freedman reports that in the blitz of media coverage following the Trump administration's Black Friday release of the Fourth National Climate Assessment (NCA4), one statistic kept popping up:
By the end of the century, global warming could cost the U.S. 10% of its gross domestic product.
Why it matters: This figure has been used to indicate that global warming will inflict massive economic costs on the U.S. if dramatic actions to adapt to climate change and curtail emissions are not taken in the next decade.
Andrew spent part of this week tracking down the origins of that frightening statistic. What he found...
The stat can be traced to a 2017 study, published in the journal Science, that quantified the economic costs to the U.S. for various amounts of climate change.
Go deeper: Read Andrew's full story.
An interesting piece in Greentech Media explains why the price decline of Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies "could have a silver lining in terms of global energy consumption," at least temporarily.
Why it matters: Digital Bitcoin "mining" and transactions mean the cryptocurrency has an energy problem, even if fears that it will cook the planet are overblown.
What's next: Companies are looking at ways to make cryptocurrencies more environmentally sustainable.
"On Tuesday, the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office awarded the company a patent outlining a processor which claims to be able to conduct 'energy-efficient high performance bitcoin mining,' specifically naming the SHA-256 algorithm used by the world’s largest cryptocurrency by market cap," Coindesk reports.
Two developments caught my eye about critical metals needed for electric vehicle batteries . . .
Cobalt: BMW, Samsung and the chemical company BASF are launching a pilot project in the Democratic Republic of the Congo designed to "improve artisanal mining working conditions, as well as living conditions for surrounding communities," they said in a joint announcement.
Lithium: Moody's Investor's Service, in a note, said they see an oversupplied market for the material arriving by the early 2020s, despite growing demand for EVs.
What's next, part 1: U.S. News & World Report has a nice slideshow of what's on display at the LA Auto Show, ranging from cars slated to go into production in the next couple years to concept models.
What's next, part 2: The consultancy Wood Mackenzie is out with some modeling of what would happen to oil demand under an aggressive EV sales growth forecast in a "carbon-constrained" world where zero-carbon energy overall accelerates faster than their base projections.