🍺 Friday! Today's newsletter has a Smart Brevity count of 996 words, 4 minutes.

⚖️ Exxon faces a discrimination case from the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, which said it "failed to take effective measures to prevent the display of hangman’s nooses" at its Baton Rouge complex.

  • Exxon disputes the EEOC claims and said it performed a "thorough investigation," per CNN and Reuters.

🎶 Today marks the 1989 release date of De La Soul's groundbreaking "3 Feet High and Rising," which provides this week's final intro tune...

1 big thing: Supercharging hurricane rainfall

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Milder than average ocean temperatures in the tropical North Atlantic Ocean, where many hurricanes tend to form, are causing these storms to grow more intense and dump far more rainfall over land than they used to, a new study finds, Andrew writes.

Why it matters: Inland flooding is a hurricane's deadliest threat, despite all the media attention paid to a storm's maximum winds and coastal storm surge.

Zoom in: The study, published in the journal Environmental Research Communications, confirms the findings from other research that showed hurricanes can dump rainfall at rates far greater than what a key physics relationship would suggest.

  • The Clausius-Clapeyron relationship holds that for every 1°C (1.8°F) increase in temperature, the atmosphere can hold about 7% more water vapor.
  • But the paper found that while a 1°C increase in ocean temperatures led to a 6% boost in hurricane-related rainfall over the ocean, such storms delivered a staggering 40% more rainfall over land.

Between the lines: The study attributes this difference to an upward trend in storm intensity, which is partly tied to climate change.

  • Stronger storms in general, including any increases related to climate change, can pull in greater quantities of near-surface moisture from surrounding areas.
  • Violent updrafts in a hurricane's core can then efficiently convert this moisture into precipitation.

The intrigue: Studies conducted in the wake of Hurricane Harvey, which drenched coastal Texas with historic and deadly rains in 2017, noted this tendency to greatly exceed the expectations from the Clausius-Clapeyron-related boost alone.

  • "In the North Atlantic, warmer ocean temperatures fuel hurricane intensity and higher wind speeds are associated with higher rainfall rates," study lead author Sam Hallam, an ocean and climate scientist at Maynooth University in Ireland, told Axios via email.

Between the lines: The study examined 392 North Atlantic tropical cyclones between 1998 and 2017 using satellite-derived precipitation data and other tools.

What they're saying: Outside researchers said the new research is in line with other findings about how storms can significantly exceed the 7% increase in rainfall rates per 1-degree of warming.

  • "Stronger winds trap more moisture in the storm, which gives you a double-whammy effect with regard to precipitation," Michael Mann, a climate scientist at the University of Pennsylvania, said in an email.
  • Michael Wehner of the Lawrence Berkeley National Lab said the new paper confirms some of his group's computer modeling studies that simulated heavy rainfall in intense hurricanes.
  • "The finding is new because it is observationally based," he said.

Yes, but: Kerry Emanuel, a veteran hurricane researcher at MIT, said the study may have overestimated the rainfall increase over land somewhat.

2. On our radar: the best places for direct air capture

Image courtesy of the Great Plains Institute

A new analysis games out the best U.S. spots for building out direct air capture (DAC), a carbon removal tech drawing fresh federal and venture capital support, Ben writes.

Driving the news: The nonprofit Great Plains Institute commissioned the study that explored regions' suitability based on factors such as:

  • Proximity to geologic storage and existing CO2 pipelines (or other transport infrastructure that provides chances for using existing rights of way).
  • Current low-carbon power and heat sources, renewables potential, and proximity to gas-fired power plants that could be retrofitted with CO2 capture. This matters because DAC has significant energy inputs.
  • The best climate and atmospheric conditions for operating the systems.

What they found: The report, conducted by Carbon Solutions LLC, identifies portions of seven overall regions, including California, the Rocky Mountains and Great Plains, the Permian Basin, and Midwest.

What we're watching: It arrives as the Energy Department is receiving applications for creating four regional DAC "hubs" with $3.5 billion in the bipartisan infrastructure law.

Full analysis

3. First look: New crypto climate probe

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

A Senate panel plans to examine the climate impacts of cryptocurrency mining next week, Axios Pro Energy Policy's Nick Sobczyk reports.

Why it matters: The Biden administration is already scrutinizing crypto mining emissions. Now, the industry is about to get even more attention from Democrats who are critical of its climate impacts.

Driving the news: Sen. Ed Markey (D-Mass.) will lead the hearing in the EPW Clean Air, Climate and Nuclear Safety Subcommittee, his office tells Axios.

Of note: Sen. Cynthia Lummis (R-Wyo.), one of the crypto industry’s biggest backers on Capitol Hill, sits on the subcommittee. It could make for a fiery hearing.

Sign up for Axios Pro Energy Policy for the full story and more vital news and analysis.

4. Charting the emissions record

Global energy-related CO2 emissions
Data: International Energy Agency; Chart: Axios Visuals

The much-discussed crash in greenhouse gas emissions from the COVID-19 pandemic during 2020 appears as just a blip in the long-term record of energy-related carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions, Andrew writes.

Driving the news: An IEA report out Thursday found emissions rose again in 2022, though more slowly than during the 2021 economic bounce back from the COVID shutdowns.

What's next: Emissions in 2023 may depend largely on the deployment rate of renewables, whether countries switch fuel sources back to lower emitting sources from coal, as well as knock-on effects from the conflict in Ukraine.

  • There are also wild-card factors that cannot be foreseen at this point, too.

5. 🧮 Number of the day: $3.4 billion

That's mining and chemicals heavyweight SQM's new capital spending plan for 2023 to 2025, with a major chunk devoted to boosting lithium output, Ben writes.

Why it matters: Lithium is a key input for EV batteries and SQM's guidance is another sign of growing demand. Reuters has more.

6. 💬 Quoted

"The non-unveil of Model 2 disappointed some people — but it shouldn't have. From our experience, auto companies don't typically unveil far cheaper and potential better engineered products far in advance of [start of production]."
— Morgan Stanley analyst Adam Jonas in a research note on Tesla

That's part of Jonas' upbeat take on Tesla's investor day, which was rather light on news — including lack of details on a cheaper, mass-market car — and didn't impress investors, Ben writes.

  • "Tesla's audacious efforts on vertical integration are about to pay off," Jonas notes, praising Tesla's multi-part cost-reduction plans.

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🙏 Thanks to Nick Aspinwall and David Nather for edits to today's edition.