Good morning and welcome back! One proud thing: We’re celebrating — Axios was named “Best Digital News Start-up” at the 2018 North American Media Awards!
At this moment in 1977, the late Marvin Gaye was atop the Billboard Hot 100 charts with an infectious track that's today's intro song...
Axios' Amy Harder and Chris Canipe report ... U.S. natural gas production has increased more than 50% since 1997, and prices have dropped to levels not seen since then.
Here's more of their piece on the price effects of the shale surge that sent production sharply upward starting in the latter half of the 2000s...
Why it matters: Natural gas prices are more opaque than gasoline prices you see driving down the street, but the fuel is actually more diverse and used in everything from home heating to electricity to industrial manufacturing.
One level deeper: America is ramping up its exports of natural gas in a liquified form (known as LNG), in response to the gas boom over the last decade.
"U.S. [natural] gas prices are something of an island in the world, and remain so despite large-volume LNG exports ramping up.”— Kevin Book, managing director, ClearView Energy Partners
What's next: As of 2017, U.S. had 4% share of global LNG exports. The International Energy Agency says in a new report that's poised to grow to 20% by 2023. That’s a “very very big jump in such a short period of time,” Fatih Birol, the executive director of the agency, told Axios Monday.
State of play: Oil prices are up following yesterday's claim by a senior State Department official that the U.S. doesn't intend to grant sanctions waivers for buyers of Iranian crude oil.
Why it matters: The Trump administration plans to take a hard line once the penalties are reimposed in November, but the posture comes with uncertainties, including...
Be smart: Veteran Reuters analyst John Kemp summed up the state of play on Twitter early Wednesday...
"[The] WHITE HOUSE can push Iran’s crude exports to zero, or it can have moderate oil prices, but cannot have both. Saudi Arabia, UAE and Kuwait likely do not have enough spare capacity to offset loss of all Iran barrels as well as Venezuela and other losses. White House must choose."
The intrigue: Some analysts cautioned that translating the tough posture into a major cut in Iranian exports isn't a given. An important line from S&P Global Platts' report...
Go deeper: The Wall Street Journal looks here at the market response to the sanctions comments.
I chatted with GOP Rep. Fred Upton yesterday before the hearing on energy geopolitics at the Energy subcommittee that he chairs. Some takeaways...
Gas pipelines: Upton is bullish about House action on his bipartisan bill to boost DOE oversight of pipeline security against cyber and other threats.
Coal and nuclear: Upton offered absolutely no endorsement of White House plans to prop up coal-fired and nuclear plants.
Climate: Upton doesn't support the proposal backed by several GOP elder statesmen like James Baker and Trent Lott that would impose a fee on carbon emissions.
Energy and trade: Upton is quite happy about the U.S. oil-and-gas surge, including the 2015 lifting of the crude export ban that he and others pushed, and generally lower consumer prices.
What caught my eye: Their take on how the White House approach to foreign policy could affect U.S. LNG exports to China (beyond the risk of trade battles spilling into LNG, which hasn't happened yet).
Here's more from their paper...
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Big Oil vs. Trump: The World Gas Conference happening this week in Washington has laid bare the oil-and-gas industry's angst about the very hawkish White House trade policies.
Axios' Andrew Freedman reports ... NASA chief Jim Bridenstine says he’s not getting pushback from Trump administration officials over his recent, high-profile endorsement of the scientific consensus that human activities are the dominant cause of global warming.
"The administration has been very supportive of my position. Nobody's given me a hard time about it at all"— NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine, in an interview with Axios
Why it matters: Bridenstine leads one of the world's top climate science research agencies, so his position on this issue will influence support for studies that in turn form the basis for policy decisions.
What he's saying: According to Bridenstine, studying climate science is not, and should not be, controversial. He says:
"What I find, Republicans and Democrats can disagree about what to do about what we are learning, but everybody, everybody on both sides of the aisle believes that we should study and understand what is happening to the planet because it is changing and everybody knows that."
Still, the Trump administration proposed steep cuts to NASA's climate programs in the next fiscal year. However, Congress restored most of the funding during the appropriations process.
Go deeper: Read the full story in the Axios stream.
Amy writes ... Oil and gas companies are increasingly focusing on how to cut emissions of methane, a potent greenhouse gas that’s also the primary component of natural gas. At a conference underway in Washington, attendees can try for themselves with virtual reality.
Why it matters: With the world’s use of natural gas growing, determining its impact on climate change is key. While many people are familiar with carbon emissions, less awareness exists around methane.
What's happening: A virtual reality exhibit by the Environmental Defense Fund at the World Gas Conference is aimed at making something intangible to most people seem less so — at least virtually.
The intrigue: The EDF exhibit allows people to virtually experience what it’s like to be a worker at an oil and natural gas well site, monitoring and stopping leaks of methane. I had a chance to experience it during the conference’s first day Tuesday.
Go deeper: Click here for the rest of the story.
Thanks for reading and we'll see you back here tomorrow.