Good morning and welcome back! Before we get into the energy world, I wanted to mention that the thrilling and outspoken U.S. 800 meter runner Nick Symmonds is calling it a career after he finished last in his heat yesterday at the U.S. Outdoor Championships.
"I'm a short, stocky kid from Boise, Idaho that went to a D-3 school and ended up being ranked number two in the world, finishing fifth in the Olympics. I think I played my hand about as well as one can," Symmonds, who is old by elite 800 meter standards at 33, said after the race. Letsrun.com has a good piece on his career. Let's dive right into energy . . .
Driving the news: A running theme in Energy secretary Rick Perry's trio of appearances before lawmakers this week was the way Perry distanced himself from the White House budget plan for DOE, especially proposals like killing of ARPA-E.
Perry repeatedly noted that the proposal was written before he was confirmed, yet he also made a few nods towards his institutional role of defending the document.
This exchange with Democrat Al Franken during yesterday's Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee hearing captures the weird position Perry finds himself in:
What really matters: Perry's ability to change the policy and political focus of the agency, not the overall spending levels that Congress will largely dictate.
In the near term, all eyes are on the release — now delayed until July — of the power grid reliability study he ordered and how it may affect federal policy.
Go deeper: Over at the Niskanen Center, veteran environmental attorney David Bookbinder breaks down the idea that Perry could invoke his authority under the Federal Power Act to keep coal plants operating that had been slated to shut down.
His conclusion: Perry would be on very shaky and vulnerable legal ground, Bookbinder's blog post argues.
The latest: Oil prices are recovering a little from their slide earlier this week, but "crude remained on course for its worst first-half decline in almost two decades as production cuts have failed to sufficiently reduce oversupply," Reuters reports.
What to watch: The latest weekly U.S. rig count will surface later today.
Boxed in: Bloomberg looks at what OPEC can do about the price slide as the production-limiting agreement that was recently extended isn't taming the bears.
Emily Holden of E&E News has a terrific piece of reporting on a closed-door meeting between EPA chief Scott Pruitt and power industry execs earlier this week.
What they're saying: Something should replace the Clean Power Plan, the Obama-era climate regulation that Pruitt is unwinding.
From her piece:
Thought bubble: This illustrates the tension between the long-term positioning of energy companies — even the ones that lobbied against Obama's regulatory wave — and the Trump administration's aggressive moves to unwind his predecessor's legacy.
My Axios colleague Amy Harder looked at the topic here.
The grid: The Rocky Mountain Institute's latest podcast is a big-picture look at the increasing role of renewables, their cost-competitiveness, the evolution of demand response, and more.
The fight: Greentech Media's latest Energy Gang podcast explores the wonky yet emotional debate over the new paper by a large group of respected experts that attacks the work of Stanford's Mark Jacobson, whose research concludes that the U.S. could be fully powered by renewables by mid-century.
The kingdom: This Platts Global Oil Markets podcast explores the naming of Mohammed bin Salman as heir apparent in Saudi Arabia, noting that he has been a force behind OPEC decision to limit production.
Big picture, part 1: Wood Mackenzie compares the forecasts on energy demand and fuel sources over the next two decades in the big statistical outlooks produced by BP, Exxon, the International Energy Agency, and their own work.
Big picture, part 2: Over at the Center for International Climate Research, Glen Peters has a high-level look at the global CO2 emissions plateau, the decline of coal in many areas, and what's next.
Tesla: The electric vehicle company said Thursday that it's in discussions with government officials in Shanghai about building a factory there. "While we expect most of our production to remain in the U.S., we do need to establish local factories to ensure affordability for the markets they serve," Tesla said in a statement to several outlets.
Trump: Platts has a careful fact-check of President Trump's speech in Iowa this week. He made a bunch of errors when it comes to energy.
Lobbying: The Nature Conservancy has brought on Cornerstone Government Affairs to work on topics including "practical solutions to create a prosperous energy future," the registration filing notes.