Good morning and welcome back! A quick note for D.C.-area readers: Tomorrow morning Axios' Mike Allen will be interviewing Senate Majority Mitch Leader McConnell and Senator Mark Warner (D-Va.), vice chair of the Senate Intelligence Committee. RSVP for the event here.
Ok let's dive in . . .
After Senate passage in the wee hours of Wednesday, the House is slated to vote on and send a tax bill for President Trump's signature that opens Alaska's Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to oil exploration later today.
Why it matters: The bill mandates the first lease sale within four years, although the Interior Department declined comment Tuesday as to how quickly they would seek to schedule a lease sale. The bill is a major, long-sought victory for Alaskan lawmakers and other backers of opening the ANWR's coastal plain, who say developing the area will help boost the state's economy.
Reality check: While ANWR may contain huge hydrocarbon resources, there's no guarantee oil will ever be produced there. For one thing, procedures for both leasing and permitting give environmental groups an avenue to litigate development efforts, with targets for lawsuits including the environmental analysis underpinning the sale of drilling blocs. For another thing, the political clock could be a factor.
Tech finance: Maana, a Silicon Valley data tech company that works with big energy companies to improve their operations, said it has raised another $28 million from funders including China International Capital Corporation as well as existing investors Chevron, Saudi Aramco and Shell.
Electric vehicles, part 1: Via Reuters, another big company is going public with reservations for Tesla's electric semi-truck as UPS pre-orders 125 of them — the largest such order made public thus far.
Electric vehicles, part 2: Greentech Media has an interesting look at how widespread adoption of EVs in the future (right now they're a tiny portion of vehicle sales) could affect electricity grids. "Failure to properly account for these effects could lead to a situation where, for example, EVs increase rather than decrease the demand for fossil fuels by upping the requirement for peaking power on the grid," their piece notes.
Climate change: Contrary to some reports, it won't make chocolate taste better, according to NPR.
Here's a few good energy-themed podcasts to keep you company while wrapping presents or whatever you do with headphones on...
Where we are, where we're going: The new edition of Energy 360, a Center for Strategic and International Studies podcast, looks at the big energy stories of 2017 and what to watch next year.
Iran decisions: The latest episode of the Columbia Energy Exchange looks at sanctions policy with a wide lens, and then zooms in on how reimposing sanctions on Iran could complicate U.S. dealings with multinational energy companies.
Methane wars: Platts Capitol Crude looks at the legal and regulatory battles over oil-and-gas sector methane emissions as the industry launches a voluntary initiative.
Solar: CleanCapital's Experts Only podcast chats with Adam Browning, executive director of the group Vote Solar, a conversation that explores federal and state-level policy initiatives and battles.
The Environmental Protection Agency has parted ways with Definers, a firm run by veteran GOP operatives that the agency had brought on with a $120,000 contract for media tracking, according to The Washington Post. Company president Joe Pounder told the paper it was a mutual decision.
Go deeper: My colleague Haley Britzky summarizes the backstory over the controversy that erupted over the relationship this week...
Whoops: Yesterday's edition incorrectly characterized the scope of the climate change discussion in the new White House National Security Strategy. You can read my updated item here.