Good morning and welcome back to Generate! We'll get to the news in a moment, but first, happy birthday to the late Keith Moon. RIP. You sound pretty good here and here and here (just for instance). Ok let's dive in . . .
Let's spend a little more time with yesterday's big news that Chevron CEO John Watson is headed for the exits (although the U.S.-based multinational oil giant isn't confirming it yet).
Perspective: My Axios colleague Steve LeVine has a bit more on what's facing Michael Wirth, the 56-year-old Chevron vice chairman who is considered the likely replacement...
Refined tastes: The Wall Street Journal (which broke the story) and others note that if Wirth is indeed tapped, most of the world's largest public oil-and-gas companies will be led by people with a background in the refining and marketing side of the business.
The days of huge returns from high and even triple-digit crude prices are in the rearview mirror for now.
While reports suggest the planned departure is on good terms, it comes as oil majors are still focused on cutting costs despite some recovery in crude prices, and the Financial Times hints that the transition is related.
Climate change: Watson has not been as outspoken as some others in the industry about tackling global warming.
My colleague Amy Harder unpacks the significance of an interesting court ruling yesterday...
A federal appeals court ruled on Tuesday that the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, an independent government agency tasked with reviewing and approving energy infrastructure, must try to consider the impact projects have on climate change.
Why it matters: The legal system has so far served as a defensive check to President Trump's broad attempt to roll back environmental regulations that his predecessor pursued. With Tuesday's ruling, that shifted to offense. It's the first explicit example of a court forcing the new administration to proactively consider climate change, as opposed to court rulings beating back, for example, EPA's attempts at delaying other climate rules.
Quoted: "We conclude that at a minimum, FERC should have estimated the amount of power-plant carbon emissions that the pipelines will make possible," states the three-judge ruling, which stemmed from the Sierra Club suing the agency over its approval of three natural gas pipelines.
Yes, but: How extensively FERC actually studies the impact of infrastructure projects' on climate change is a big open question; in theory it could choose to do a cursory review and deem it acceptable.
Our prediction: This court ruling will provide momentum for environmental groups to keep with their strategy of suing FERC over its role in the climate change debate.
this Reuters piece
Retreat: Australian mining and energy giant BHP Billiton is looking to dump its U.S. shale business in what the Houston Chronicle calls a "stunning retreat" from the sector.
Crude disruption: An interesting new note from Citi takes stock of how the U.S. shale boom has fundamentally changed the oil market and sapped the power of traditional petro-states.
Digital alliance: Microsoft and oil field services giant Halliburton have announced a "strategic alliance to drive digital transformation across the oil and gas industry."
Driving the news: In case you missed this piece in the Axios stream, the Trump administration rebuffed a coal industry bid for the sweeping use of federal power to impose a moratorium on closure of coal-fired power plants.
What's next: One thing to watch after yesterday's AP scoop is what the decision means for federal policy going forward. One place to look is the upcoming Energy Department report on the power grid, which renewables advocates fear will be used as a stalking horse for new actions to prop up coal.
Your Generate host touched base with renewable energy advocates yesterday, and their antennae are still up despite the White House decision not to invoke emergency powers under the Federal Power Act in response to a plea from the coal mining company Murray Energy.
Trump on coal: He touted his efforts to "end the war" on coal at last night's rally in Arizona, and then claimed that in Pennsylvania, there's going to be a "brand new coal mine where they are going to take out clean coal, meaning they'll take it out — coal — they're going to clean it."
Reality check: The idea of "clean coal" is not about mining, but instead typically refers to technologies, which have faced big headwinds for commercial adoption, that enable coal-fired power generation with carbon capture and sequestration.
Going mobile: The big electric vehicle news yesterday was that Ford is exploring a joint venture with China's Anhui Zotye Automobile Co. to build and market electric cars in China.
Solar: A power industry coalition called the Electric Reliability Coordinating Council is urging the U.S. International Trade Commission to reject a petition from two struggling solar panel manufacturers for steep penalties on imported cells and modules.
Climate: Over at The Conversation, Penn State's David Titley has a nice look at the history and relevance of the widely used international target of limiting global warming to 2 degrees celsius above preindustrial levels.