Good morning and Happy Halloween!
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Onto music. This week marks 40 years since Rush released "Hemispheres," so one of those tracks is today's intro tune...
Worldwide government subsidies for consumers to buy fuel and electricity derived from fossil fuels rose in 2017 after falling for several years, new International Energy Agency data shows.
Why it matters: Subsidies are a thorny problem in the wider push to transition the world to cleaner and less carbon-intensive energy sources, as this new IEA commentary notes...
By the numbers: Subsidies rose 12% last year to reach over $300 billion worldwide, the IEA estimates.
Where it stands: IEA analysts Wataru Matsumura and Zakia Adam suggest that in addition to the higher figures, progress on subsidy reform in a number of countries is at risk.
Threat level: "The rise in international fuel prices in 2018 could set back efforts to phase out fossil fuel subsidies," they write, adding that some countries have begun delaying implementation of moves toward market-based pricing.
The big picture: Joe Aldy, associate public policy professor with Harvard's Kennedy School of Government and former White House energy aide under President Obama, tells me:
"The increase in oil subsidies reflects the challenge many developing countries face when setting fuel prices. When crude oil prices fell in 2014, a number of countries reset their fuel prices and effectively reduced their subsidies."
"Political opposition to subsidy reduction reappears, however, when crude oil prices increase, and a number of countries have begun to reinstate their subsidies."
Between the lines: Aldy also offers some thoughts on policy and options for effective subsidy reform....
"Not surprisingly, many politicians prefer to avoid making such a choice, and subsidies increase. A more effective subsidy reform would remove the need for policymakers to act every time crude oil prices change."
"A complete reform would leave markets to determine the price of fuels, as in the United States and other developed countries. A substantial, intermediate step would be to create an automatic fuel pricing mechanism that adjusts — but not too quickly — to changing crude oil prices."
Of note: Keep in mind this data is about subsidies for consumers. Another big part of the picture is large worldwide subsidies for fossil fuel production, which isn't part of this report.
The Washington Post broke the news yesterday that 2 sources told them Interior's Office of Inspector General (OIG) referred one of its probes of Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke to the Justice Department for further investigation into his conduct.
Why it matters: This referral could result in DOJ opening up a criminal investigation into Zinke's actions. Interior has not yet responded to Axios' request for comment, but an OIG spokesperson declined to comment to WashPost.
The intrigue: It's not clear which of the multiple OIG probes may have been referred to DOJ.
What to watch: Axios' Amy Harder notes that, as these controversies pile up, Zinke will be compared to Scott Pruitt, who resigned as EPA administrator earlier this year under a cloud of ethical scandals.
But, but, but: "The Secretary has not been contacted or notified of any DOJ investigation or Inspector General referral," according to Zinke's attorney, Stephen Ryan. In a statement provided to multiple outlets, Ryan states:
Earnings: MarketWatch sets the table for Exxon's Q3 earnings report that lands Friday morning...
Crude exports: Per Reuters, "A high-stakes competition is emerging among energy exporters proposing multi-million-dollar crude terminals along the U.S. Gulf Coast to handle a gusher of shale oil coming from West Texas oilfields."
LNG exports: CNBC looks at the fallout from the White House trade battle against China...
47-year old Cheswick coal-fired power plant. Photo: Robert Nickelsberg/Getty Images
Amy has a dispatch on Beltway maneuvering around carbon tax proposals...
The latest: A conservative group is releasing a report today concluding that a carbon tax would raise less revenue and cut fewer emissions than often claimed.
Why it matters: Behind every great legislative fight in Washington is a plethora of reports arguing over it.
Driving the news: A $40-per-ton carbon tax proposal by a group called the Climate Leadership Council (CLC) is ramping up with ExxonMobil, the world’s largest publicly traded oil company, funneling $1 million into a parallel lobbying and advocacy effort.
The details: Pyle's group enlisted Capital Alpha Partners, a strategic policy research firm, to model several different prices of carbon to show its potential impact, particularly on raising revenue for overhauling the tax code and lowering carbon emissions.
The other side: Several other reports have found different conclusions.
Go deeper: Read Amy's full piece here.
Buses: Yesterday the electric bus maker Proterra unveiled the school bus (seen in tweet above) that it developed with Daimler subsidiary Thomas Built Buses.
Industry: Bloomberg has an in-depth feature about use of EVs in the mining industry. From their piece...
“How we are going to deal with this problem is for me the nerve centre of the climate change debate today.”— Fatih Birol, IEA executive director, to Financial Times
Speaking to the Financial Times today, Birol warns there's a "blind spot" when it comes to energy markets and climate goals — one that can be seen via a fleet of new coal plants in Asia, which threaten global emissions targets.