Good morning! Today's Smart Brevity count: 1,102 words, 4 minutes.
Photo Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios; Photos: Ethan Miller and Brian Blanco/Getty Images
Super Tuesday means it's the first primaries in the oil patch, so it's a good time to compare Joe Biden and Bernie Sanders, who are battling for front-runner status in the Democratic primary.
Why it matters: They have important differences on energy and climate policy, although both would restrict development and take a more adversarial posture toward fossil fuel industries than President Trump.
Driving the news: A rapid-fire burst of developments shows why it's increasingly a two-person race, even though Elizabeth Warren and Michael Bloomberg are still competing.
Where it stands: I won't even try and capture all the similarities and differences in this item. The Washington Post has a detailed policy breakdown. Mic compares spending targets and more. But here are some top-line points...
But, but, but: While both would go further than former President Obama (to say nothing of Trump), Sanders goes further left in his proposals, posture and emphasis. He wants...
Plus, Sanders' wider Green New Deal plan has a $16 trillion price tag, which is vastly more than Biden wants to spend.
The intrigue: One caveat — and it's a big one! — is that differences between the plans shrink a lot if you consider what has any chance of getting through Congress and the courts.
Several important oil- and gas-producing states vote today, none bigger than Texas, which produces vastly more crude than any other state (and nearly all countries for that matter).
What they're saying: A note from the research firm ClearView Energy Partners this morning points out that the oil-and-gas sector could "face stark regulatory reversals if any of the remaining Democrats won."
What I'm watching: I'll be looking for entrance and exit polls showing how voters in the different states weigh climate and energy — and whether any of them provide fresh data on voters' views on fracking.
Oil prices regained ground Monday and this morning amid signs that OPEC and Russia will coalesce around deeper production cuts when the OPEC+ group meets this week.
Why it matters: Falling consumption from the coronavirus' travel and economic toll is the latest hurdle for the sector, which was already grappling with soft demand growth and prices.
Where it stands: Brent crude oil is trading at roughly $52.99 after falling below $50 at times in recent days.
But, but, but: Via Reuters, "The Kremlin told reporters on Tuesday it would not say whether Moscow was ready to make additional oil output cuts as part of the cooperation between OPEC and non-OPEC countries and said it was necessary to wait for their meeting later this week."
Image of Volkswagen ID.4 SUV. Courtesy of Volkswagen
Volkswagen today shared more information and images of a small electric SUV that the automaker announced will be called the ID.4.
Why it matters: Via Car and Driver this morning, "The electric crossover will be the first vehicle on VW's MEB electric platform to make its way to the United States and will initially launch in Europe later in 2020."
The big picture: CNET reports,"So, apart from its name and its platform, what do we know about ID 4?"
Go deeper: VW chief defies sceptics with ambitious plans to overtake Tesla (Financial Times)
Forest fire in Riau Province, Indonesia, on March 1. Indonesia's fires have been an annual problem for decades, much of it human-made for more palm oil plantations. Photo: Afrianto Silalahi/NurPhoto via Getty Images
C16 Biosciences, a company seeking to commercialize a manufactured alternative to palm oil, announced yesterday that it has raised $20 million in Series A funding from backers including the Bill Gates-led Breakthrough Energy Ventures.
Why it matters: Palm oil is used in a massive array of products — from shampoo to foods to biofuels.
How it works: The New York-based startup has a fermentation-based "bio-manufacturing" process for "brewing palm oil like beer."
What they're saying: “Consumers want to buy the products they love, but they don’t want to buy products that are directly responsible for climate change," CEO Shara Ticku said.
The intrigue: They're not alone in this space. Per Bloomberg...
Climate: "Scientists say that half of the world’s sandy beaches could disappear by the end of the century if climate change continues unchecked." (Associated Press)
Big Oil: "Chevron Corp. said Tuesday it plans to return $75 billion to $80 billion to shareholder over the next five years. In a statement released ahead of its annual Security Analyst Meeting, the oil giant said the returns will be achieved by reining in capital spending, improving cost efficiency and cash flow growth." (MarketWatch)
Arctic drilling: "Three big U.S. banks have publicly announced break-ups with Arctic drilling in recent months, reflecting Wall Street's increasing desire to cast itself as environmentally friendly amid a political firestorm in Alaska." (Reuters)