Good morning, I joined Greentech Media's Political Climate podcast last week to talk about fossil-fuel money in politics, the Kigali climate policy, and to what degree alarmism in the climate debate is good or not.
Check it out here, and then read my latest Harder Line column, which tackles similar topics. I'll share a glimpse of that, and then Ben Geman will get you up to speed on what's shaping up to be a busy week.
America’s hot summer is fueling wildfires — and a fierce debate over climate change, the single most polarized policy in the U.S.
The big picture: There are plenty of reasons for this divide. Fossil-fuel industry lobbying is one. Our elections that encourage partisanship and tribalism don’t help. A lot more is at play underlying these factors.
Here's a rundown of some issues that I see time and again inflaming our divisions:
1. Black and white rhetoric for a gray topic. Listening to some interest groups and politicians, fossil fuels are either terrible for the planet or a godsend to humanity. The truth is, they’re some of both.
2. Ignoring science when it's not convenient. Many Republicans, industry officials and right-leaning news organizations continue to dismiss or openly mock the scientific community’s warnings about climate change.
3. Passive problem solving. More recently, Republicans indirectly acknowledge climate change is occurring — but still don't say it.
4. Overplaying your hand. News outlets, politicians and interest groups sometimes exaggerate claims that then backfire.
5. What about-ism. This rhetorical device is common in politics: Attempting to discredit a position instead of responding to a question. Republicans do this as a way of avoiding acknowledging climate change.
6. Convenient problems. Some Democrats and environmental groups hide behind technological problems to avoid taking explicit positions. The upshot is often slowed progress. I see this with nuclear power and carbon capture.
Go deeper: Read the whole column.
The Environmental Protection Agency is slated to unveil a proposal this week to replace Obama-era rules to cut carbon emissions from coal-fired power plants with a much weaker substitute, according to multiple reports.
The rollout could be tied to President Trump's Tuesday trip to West Virginia, a major coal-producing state.
Why it matters: EPA's 2015 Clean Power Plan was a central pillar of Obama's climate agenda, and was designed to achieve a 32% cut in nationwide CO2 emissions from power plants by 2030, relative to 2005 levels.
Go deeper: This Washington Post story over the weekend has details on the replacement plan.
Yes, but: It's not clear if the proposal will alter the trajectory of coal's decline in power markets, which has been driven largely by cheap natural gas, as well as the rise of renewables and separate regulations.
In Kawama, DRC, a miner prepares to descend. Photo: Michael Robinson Chavez/The Washington Post/Getty Images
Axios' Steve LeVine reports ... The U.S. government is funding a push to reinvent lithium-ion batteries so they contain little or no cobalt, an increasingly expensive metal found largely in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, where activists say workers often toil in inhumane conditions.
The big picture: Cobalt — contained in virtually every commercial lithium-ion battery on the planet — has unusual energy density and the ability to stabilize volatile electrochemistry. But its price has swung wildly given booming demand for electric cars in China, from Tesla, and elsewhere — in addition to electronic devices like smartphones.
Go deeper: Read Steve's full story in the Axios stream.
Breaking: Via AFP, "French energy giant Total has officially quit its multi-billion-dollar gas project in Iran, Oil Minister Bijan Namdar Zanganeh said on Monday, following the reimposition of US sanctions."
Trump and oil: The Associated Press found an obscure but consequential administration document published recently "without fanfare."
LNG: Per Reuters, a sign of the expansion of the global liquefied natural gas trade.
Saudi Arabia's sovereign wealth fund may invest in luxury electric vehicle startup Lucid Motors, according to Reuters, which reports that recent discussions could result in the Saudis eventually investing over $1 billion and obtaining majority ownership.
Why it matters: The report comes just days after Tesla CEO Elon Musk claimed the Saudi Arabian Public Investment Fund (PIF) was "eager" to bankroll his plan to take Tesla private.
Go deeper: USA vs. Elon Musk.
Pacificorp's 1440 megawatt coal-fired power plant in Castle Dale, Utah. Photo: George Frey via Getty Images
Grid security: The Atlantic Council's David Livingston takes a critical look at brewing White House plans to aid coal-fired and nuclear power plants. Livingston writes...
If the priority is to address cyber threats to the grid, the Trump administration might want to focus on the Department of Energy’s own “Multiyear Plan for Energy Sector Cybersecurity,” issued in March.
That plan doesn't have provisions for propping up uneconomic power plants, but instead includes steps far more likely to get the grid where it needs to go.
Transportation: UC-Berkeley's Gordon Bauer makes the case that concerns about ride-hailing companies creating more congestion in cities miss the bigger picture. Here's part of Bauer's take...
Privately owned vehicles driven for personal use still dominate our transportation system, in large part because using one is cheap, fast and comfortable after the initial investment.
Any regulatory solution to congestion must focus on personal vehicles first. Short of that, placing limits on Uber or Lyft will be a mere drop in the gas tank.
Congress, part 1: The Senate Energy and Natural Resources gathers Tuesday for a hearing on blockchain.
Congress, part 2: A pair of other committee hearings will focus on Russia at a time when some lawmakers are pushing for new energy-related sanctions.
Electricity: A Tuesday event hosted by the nonprofit Helena Group will look at intentional and natural electromagnetic threats to the power grid and the effect on national security.