Good morning and welcome back. Prince's classic album 1999 was released 35 years ago today. RIP. Let's drive much too fast toward the news . . .
That was fast: Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee chairwoman Lisa Murkowski has scheduled a hearing Thursday on opening the coastal plain of Alaska's Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to oil exploration.
Why it matters: The announcement came just hours after the House approved the Senate budget blueprint. The budget is important procedurally because it paves the way for Murkowski — an Alaska Republican who favors ANWR drilling — to write ANWR legislation that's immune from filibuster in the closely divided Senate.
Flashback: Yesterday I looked at why producing oil from ANWR is no sure thing even if legislation reaches the finish line.
New data: The American Wind Energy Association, industry's main trade group, has released its latest snapshot of U.S. development. A few takeaways and numbers from the wealth of new data...
Contract probes grow: "Multiple congressional committees are investigating a $300 million contract awarded to a small Montana company in the hometown of Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke that was tapped to help restore Puerto Rico's damaged power grid," the Associated Press reports.
Solar tariff fight: Several conservative and free-market groups are ramping up opposition to potential new tariffs on imported solar panel equipment. Here's a piece of their new open letter to President Trump today:
Trump versus Steyer: "Wacky and totally unhinged" is how Trump described billionaire climate activist and donor Tom Steyer in a tweet this morning. Steyer recently launched a $10 million campaign to have Trump impeached.
Lobbying news: A few new energy and environment-related filings that have surfaced lately in the Lobbying Disclosure Act database...
Coming today: Exxon and Chevron, the two biggest U.S.-based multinational oil companies, will both report earnings later this morning. Keep an eye on the Axios stream for more.
Total profit: Via Bloomberg, France-based global major Total "posted the highest earnings from pumping oil and gas in more than two years, illustrating the improving fortunes of an industry that's endured the deepest downturn in a generation."
More deals, smaller deals: CNBC sizes up the latest report on industry activity from PwC, noting "American oil and gas producers and investors are still striking a lot of deals, but they're now focusing on smaller mergers and acquisitions, extending a trend that began in the first half of 2017."
Big oil eyes Brazil: "Brazil will auction eight blocks in its coveted deepwater oil region on Friday, a prospect that has lured top executives from the world's biggest oil companies to Rio de Janeiro for the bidding round," Reuters reports.
Over in the Axios stream, my colleague Amy Harder reports that a coalition of multinational oil-and-gas companies are unveiling a trio of investments in low-carbon energy technologies and projects in London today. From her item...
Why it matters: Friday's announcements signal some new and concrete ways that multinational oil-and-gas players are steering money toward technologies to cut greenhouse gas emissions.
Who is involved: The investment arm of the Oil & Gas Climate Initiative, a group launched in 2014 of about 10 global oil and gas companies including Saudi Aramco, BP and Royal Dutch Shell, is behind the push. No U.S.-based companies are in the group.
Specifics: According to the announcement, the new investments are in:
Yes, but: The announcements, according to materials viewed by Axios Thursday night, did not include specific dollar amounts. These are the first initiatives from a "billion-dollar investment vehicle" that the group launched in late 2016 — an amount that's not a big number in the grand scheme of oil-industry investments.
Be smart: Many of the lower-carbon investments made by oil and gas companies are real, but they're also a drop in the bucket compared with the investments made in their traditional fossil fuel products.
Disconnected: The Economist is out with an interesting feature on developments in wireless charging for electric vehicles and the companies emerging in that space, such as Virginia-based Evatran and New York-based HEVO Power.
Shiny: A Bloomberg feature has lots of cool photos and information on the models and concepts — including several electric vehicles — on display at this week's Tokyo Motor Show. Stuff like Mitsubishi's e-Evolution, described like this:
"This all-electric crossover SUV is also an AI Personal Assistant, which learns driver habits and gives spoken advice on what needs improvement, taking backseat driving to a whole new dimension. The prototype has three motors running a four-wheel drive system."