Happy Friday! Three quick things before we get started...
Dear Ohio: Join Axios' Mike Allen at The Ohio State University Monday for a discussion on the Future of Work with entrepreneur Mark Cuban, Governor John Kasich, and our own Jim VandeHei. To RSVP click here.
And today marks the birthday of Tracy Chapman, so we'll get going with this incredible song...
Financially struggling FirstEnergy Corp. wants Energy Secretary Rick Perry to make sweeping use of emergency powers to keep the companies' coal-fired and nuclear plants running and guarantee higher revenues.
Why it matters: It's a new front in the intense policy and political fight over power plants facing heavy pressure from cheap natural gas, renewables, and stagnant demand.
It forces a big question, which is how far the Trump administration will go to help coal and nuclear plants at risk of closing.
Why this sounds familiar: The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission in January rejected Perry's push for new power market rules that would aid companies with coal and nuclear plants in the Midwest and mid-Atlantic.
The gang is all here: It drew instant pushback from the spectrum of interests that attacked Perry's FERC move, ranging from the American Petroleum Institute to the Sierra Club.
One level deeper: FirstEnergy wants DOE to aggressively alter market conditions in PJM, which covers all or parts of 13 states and contains dozens of coal and nuclear plants.
ICYMI: On Wednesday, FirstEnergy said it plans to shut down three nuclear plants in the coming years.
The intrigue: One interesting thing about FirstEnergy's request is that it's asking for an unusually aggressive use of DOE's emergency authority under the Federal Power Act.
Quoted: Sam Walsh, who was DOE's deputy general counsel for energy policy late in the Obama administration, tells Axios in an email:
"Section 202(c) of the Federal Power Act gives DOE authority to order temporary actions in times of war or emergency. The authority is not suited to imposing multi-year structural changes to an entire region. Were DOE to use the authority in that way, it would face a steep, uphill fight in the courts."
Crystal ball: I chatted with Sue Tierney, a senior DOE official under Bill Clinton. She similarly said that what FirstEnergy wants would be an atypical use of the Federal Power Act.
Be smart: Utility Dive has an in-depth look at the filing and its implications.
Bidding big: Per the New York Times, "Exxon Mobil and other oil companies opened their wallets at an offshore oil auction in Brazil on Thursday in a sign that the industry was stepping back into the deepwater drilling business."
My thought bubble: The auction comes just a week after a big Interior Department lease sale in the Gulf of Mexico brought in just $125 million in total winning bids.
Note: That's basically my point in the silly meme above. I'll see myself out.
An updated analysis from the Rhodium Group consultancy confirms there's a slowdown in the decline of U.S. energy-related carbon emissions.
By the numbers: These emissions fell by 0.66% last year, which they note is half their average rate from 2005 to 2016, when emissions fell by a total of 13.4%, thanks largely to slow energy demand growth plus gas and renewables shoving coal aside in electricity markets.
Why it matters: The chart above shows one reason why progress has slowed, which is that wringing carbon out of the transportation sector, as opposed to electricity, is proving a tougher nut to crack.
One level deeper, via the report:
Electrifying the gig economy: A new Rocky Mountain Institute report explores the estimated cost savings for drivers with "transportation network companies" (TNCs) like Uber and Lyft who purchase or rent electric vehicles.
Why it matters: Driving for ride-sharing services is a growing employment sector, and more broadly, the forecasted expansion of electric vehicle deployment is connected in part to their use in shared mobility and autonomous applications.
What they found: Despite generally higher upfront costs of EVs, highly active TNC drivers, who puts lots of miles on their cars, can see substantial benefits thanks to lower maintenance costs and not buying gasoline.
Check out the chart above: About half that savings comes in avoided fuel costs, and the other half from lower maintenance needs.
Exxon: As my colleague Khorri Atkinson noted in the Axios stream, a federal judge in New York Thursday dismissed a lawsuit by ExxonMobil seeking to halt a probe by New York and Massachusetts into whether the oil and gas giant had lied to investors and the public about its knowledge of climate change.
Shell: The Wall Street Journal has an informative feature about the company's moves in the power and EV space, noting the oil-and-gas behemoth has a "long-term plan to marry its huge natural-gas output with a futuristic utility business."
Back to Exxon: Via AP, "An anti-corruption group says Exxon Mobil bought rights to drill in an area off the coast of West Africa despite its concerns about possible corruption."
Tesla: The company's rough patch got rougher still with the news, via Bloomberg, that Tesla is "recalling all Model S cars built before April 2016 to retrofit a power-steering component as the company caps its worst one-month performance in the stock market since December 2010."
One more thing about the FirstEnergy request: The Energy Department provided some food for thought yesterday when Perry's Twitter account "liked" a Bloomberg reporter's tweet about the company's request.
Yes, but: DOE tells Axios that it's not what it appears.
"This was human error, not an endorsement from the Secretary. A staffer on the DOE digital team accidentally clicked 'like' on the post — there is nothing more to the story," DOE spokeswoman Shaylyn Hynes said.