Happy Friday and welcome back to Generate. Today I'll be watching for signs that President Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping talk about climate change at their meeting, but as I wrote yesterday, even a cameo at the talks is a long shot. But that's ok — there's plenty happening elsewhere. Let's dive in . . .
The embattled nuclear power industry is circulating an analysis in Washington that makes a rather blunt political point: Regions with nuclear plants are a "critical element" of the coalition that elected President Trump.
Their case: The Nuclear Energy Institute memo and maps (see example above) overlays the location of nuclear power plants with county-level results in the 2016 elections.
Their warning: "Given the razor-thin popular vote margin in the states that delivered the Electoral College to President Trump, these are voters he can ill-afford to lose," the memo states.
Why it matters: The nuclear industry wants help from the federal government. It has been stuck in neutral for years, with very few new projects getting off the ground and a number of existing reactors facing potential closure. It has set a series of policy goals at several agencies, including the Energy Department, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission and the Nuclear Regulatory Commission.
To be sure:
The 100,000 people directly employed by the industry is not make-or-break for the economy in the big picture (the economy added 235,000 total jobs in February alone, for instance). But the memo argues that the industry is a vital economic driver in counties with nuclear plants through workers and their families, supporting other types of businesses, and providing a big chunk of the local tax base.
A few items on electric vehicles caught my eye....
The Rocky Mountain Institute is warning that utilities are hampering expansion of public charging stations for electric vehicles.
The Chinese electric vehicle company BYD is talking with lithium producers in Chile about supply deals for the companies batteries, the Financial Times reports.
The New York Times explores why Tesla's share prices are so high. The company passed Ford in market value despite making a tiny fraction of the number of cars.
Reaction: The airstrikes against Syria sent oil prices upwards to a one-month high on Friday.
But that said: The Wall Street Journal reports that the "fundamental equation in oil markets remains unchanged."
Renewable electricity sources claimed their highest share of new worldwide generation capacity additions last year, with new solar additions leading the way, the United Nations said in a broad report on the global state of play.
Check out the chart above: It shows that wind, solar and other renewables accounted for over 55 percent of new capacity last year, a new record. Some other takeaways from the report:
The global pie: Renewables are growing fast but still account for a small share of total global power supplies. Renewables (excluding large hydro dams) accounted for 11.3 percent of global power in 2016, more than double the amount from a decade earlier.
New Axios energy reporter Amy Harder broke the news yesterday that the CEO of America's third-largest coal producer has penned a letter to President Donald Trump urging him to stay in the Paris climate deal.
Why it matters: It's the latest sign of broad corporate backing for the pact, from which Trump pledged to withdraw while on the campaign trail. Big oil companies, including ExxonMobil, have also called on the president to stay in the deal.
To be sure: Fossil-fuel companies, including Cloud Peak, don't want the new administration to stick with the same commitments as the last one. Marshall writes in his letter that he wants the U.S. to "ensure that fossil energy remains a driver of global prosperity for the foreseeable future while addressing climate concerns."
Click here for the rest of the story.
Interior staffs up: Interior secretary Ryan Zinke announced two major hires yesterday.
More Interior: An internal Interior Department memo obtained by Axios shows that Laura Keehner Rigas, the communications director for the Massachusetts Executive Office of Education, will be the next head of Interior's Office of Communications. Her prior jobs include serving as national communications director for the American Conservative Union.
That's it for now! Thanks for reading and have a great weekend. But please don't go far — you can find more coverage today in the Axios stream. And as always, your tips and emails are appreciated at firstname.lastname@example.org.