Good morning everyone, and welcome to the last week of September. It's going to be nearly 90 degrees today in Washington, D.C., which makes my latest Harder Line column particularly timely.
Born out of my own recent experience as a homeowner, I look at how air conditioners are playing catch-up to a suite of environmental rules. I'll share it below and then hand things back to Ben to get you up to speed on the rest of the news you need to know.
Environmental rules, like any regulation, upend industries and business behavior in obscure ways. Ultimately, however, the rules usually leave consumers on the hook for the costs. I know because I'm one of them.
What you need to know: Nearly 90% of U.S. homes have air conditioners, which will need repairs at one time or another. If a technician encourages replacement of an A/C unit because of environmental rules, there are three refrigerants you need to know about, and three regulatory transitions too.
Dive deeper: Read the rest of my column in the Axios stream here.
Big in power: ABB, the Swiss multinational tech and engineering giant, announced a $2.6 billion deal Monday to acquire GE Industrial Solutions, the GE unit that makes an array of electrical equipment.
Oil market buzz: Bloomberg takes the pulse of oil traders at the Asia Pacific Petroleum Conference in Singapore and finds more optimism than last year, thanks to stronger worldwide demand and production cuts from the cooperation between OPEC, Russia, and some other producers.
Changing of the guard: S&P Global Platts is out with its annual energy company rankings, and this year Russia's state-owned gas and oil giant Gazprom tops the list, ending the long reign of ExxonMobil, which is now 9th.
Get ready: An array of energy industry groups — representing wind and solar, biomass, LNG, nuclear and more — have dubbed this week "National Clean Energy Week" and scheduled a suite of events, like this symposium tomorrow where Energy secretary Rick Perry and Interior secretary Ryan Zinke are slated to appear.
Flashback: Amy wrote about the effort and the messaging behind it here, noting that the groups are seeking to "highlight how the industry is creating jobs and providing reliable electricity, with less focus on the sector's role combating climate change."
The other side: Some environmentalists are chafing at the messaging and lobbying blitz because groups involved include fossil-fuel organizations, including the American Petroleum Institute, as well as the nuclear power industry's main trade group and others. (The full list of groups is here.)
A few other things on our radar this week in Congress...
DOE nominees: The Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee meets tomorrow to hear from nominees for two major Energy Department jobs: assistant secretary for fossil energy and assistant secretary for electricity delivery and energy reliability.
Tech in focus: Also Tuesday, a House Energy and Commerce subcommittee examines "technology's role in empowering consumers." This hearing will examine a suite of emerging technologies like microgrids, storage, and other distributed energy resources.
Nuclear: One more on a packed Tuesday — a House Oversight and Government Reform subcommittee will look into nuclear waste storage and management policy.
Big picture: This sums it up pretty well...
What's next: We'll spend more time with this in the coming weeks, but there are a couple of things to watch and consider in the next phases, beginning with briefs due to the ITC this week and then a public hearing October 3.
1. Trade issues: One is how the outside parties opposed to tariffs suggest that the White House may be able to thread the needle of imposing new trade penalties without causing solar panel costs to skyrocket so much that new projects become uneconomical.
2. Coal question: Another wrinkle is whether the White House will view the potential trade penalties as another tool to assist coal, in addition to a chance to show a muscular trade policy imposing restrictions that hit exports from solar companies in Asia and elsewhere.
More: Here's a little perspective on that idea, from an energy expert with the Council on Foreign Relations...
Big picture: Good stuff on the latest episode of The President's Inbox, a Council on Foreign Relations podcast, where author Meghan O'Sullivan offers a lucid and helpful view of the U.S. energy boom and how it is shaking up markets and geopolitics.
Here are a couple of the many interesting points from O'Sullivan:
LNG and geopolitics: "I am not a big believer that the U.S. is going to capture a lot of Russia's market in Europe," said O'Sullivan, a former George W. Bush adviser, casting doubt on the prospect of using U.S. LNG to counter Russian influence.
Why? Longtime supplier Russia, facing more global market competition, has been willing to alter its business practices and renegotiate prices, and there are newer entrants on the global scene.
China: The surge in U.S. oil-and-gas production and all the supplies sloshing around global markets mean China is less anxious about access to energy, which has a beneficial effect.