Good morning and welcome back! Happy third birthday to my delightful, sweet, opinionated, dinosaur-obsessed son. He's just the coolest person ever.
And researching today's newsletter I also learned that today is Ziggy Marley's birthday, which is wild because my son loves Ziggy Marley. So, as he would say, "I want to listen to 'Into Da Gwoove.'" Absolutely. Let's dive in . . .
My Axios colleague Amy Harder has this item that follows up on her most recent column. Check it out...
Chinese interests keep coming up in a fight playing out within America's solar industry about how the Trump administration should address a flood of cheap solar imports, coming mostly from China or Chinese-owned companies.
Why it matters: The dynamic reveals how widespread Chinese interests are in clean energy, and in particular solar manufacturing, a space it has dominated since at least 2010. President Trump has said he wants to reverse decades of open-trade policies to help protect American jobs and manufacturing. It would take huge policy changes and a lot of time to reduce China's dominance.
Driving the news: The International Trade Commission is considering what trade remedy it should recommend Trump employ to address the cheap solar imports. The independent federal agency unanimously voted in September that those imports have economically injured two U.S.-based but foreign-owned solar manufacturers. Trump will ultimately decide whether to impose tariffs or another kind of remedy.
Click here for more in the Axios stream.
Aramco plot thickens: "China is offering to buy up to 5 percent of Saudi Aramco directly, sources said, a move that could give Saudi Arabia the flexibility to consider various options for its plan to float the world's biggest oil producer on the stock market," Reuters reports.
Why markets could get more volatile: "Geopolitical risks to the oil market have continued to intensify," Goldman Sachs notes in an early morning update that sizes up tensions. These include Iraq's seizure of oilfields once controlled by the Kurdistan Regional Government and Trump's decertification of the Iran deal.
U.S. shale production up: The latest Energy Information Administration data forecasts shale oil production from the countries major shale plays — led again by the Permian Basin — to rise another 81,000 barrels per day next month, bringing it to over 6.1 million bpd.
My Axios colleagues Jonathan Swan and Amy Harder have a dispatch from the forever war over biofuels...
A group of Midwestern Republican senators are meeting Tuesday with EPA administrator Scott Pruitt to express their concerns about the agency's recent moves on ethanol, according to a spokesman for Sen. Chuck Grassley. The Iowa Republican lunched with Pruitt on Monday to discuss the same issues.
Why it matters: Ethanol is one of the few energy issues that's controversial within the Republican Party, so expect this tension to continue to thrum throughout Trump's administration. This meeting comes ahead of a November 30 deadline for EPA to issue final annual regulations for the federal ethanol mandate.
The backstory: Trump has supported ethanol, which comes mostly from corn and is thus important to senators from corn-rich states, like Iowa. Pruitt, in his former job as attorney general of Oklahoma, signed onto litigation opposing the federal mandate, also called the renewable fuel standard (RFS). Trump has aggressively supported the mandate and campaigned heavily on it while touring Iowa during the presidential campaign.
Click here for the rest of the story in the Axios stream.
A few tidbits on the DOE request for new FERC rules that boost consumer payments to coal and nuclear plants based on their "resilience and reliability" attributes...
Enlisting allies: A new comment filing in the FERC docket making the rounds yesterday signals how the fight over the rule is taking on the hues of familiar Beltway advocacy campaigns.
The filing notes that First Energy, an Ohio power company with a generation mix that's heavy on coal and nuclear, provides the group $15,000 annually. As a few people noted on Twitter yesterday, the party listed as filing the document is...First Energy.
From the wonksphere: Experts from think tanks and academia weighed in yesterday where it matters most: via blogs.
University of California-Davis economics professor James Bushnell criticizes the proposal here, arguing that it's a thinly disguised sop to coal. Below is an excerpt of his lengthy post on the blog of Energy Institute at Haas:
Over at Resources For the Future, senior fellow Timothy Brennan says there are ways to try and ensure reliability without funneling more ratepayer cash to financially struggling coal and nuclear plants.
Instead, he writes in a new post, regulators could "treat offers of energy or capacity as binding, subject to meaningful penalties for nonperformance."
Solar trade analysis: New forecasts from GTM Research examine how varying levels of import tariffs on solar panel equipment would affect the amount of new generating capacity installed in coming years.
The chart above shows their forecast of how the utility-scale sector — which already faces "razor-thin economic competitiveness with other generation sources" — would be hit hard by new import penalties. The latter two bars most closely resemble the tariffs that two financially distressed panel manufacturers (Suniva and SolarWorld) are seeking from the Trump administration, GTM notes.
China's renewable motives: The Center for Strategic and International Studies is out with a nice, wide-ranging overview of China's internal political and economic motivations for its aggressive moves on renewable power. One interesting note on the geopolitical effect:
Things are happening: The White House Office of Management and Budget just posted records of two separate meetings this month with outside parties — the Environmental Defense Fund and the American Petroleum Institute — on EPA plans to scuttle an Obama-era regulation on methane emissions from new oil-and-gas infrastructure.
Batteries: Bloomberg New Energy Finance has published a snapshot of its latest research into the global market for lithium, a key component of batteries for electric vehicles and other uses.
Big picture: The New York Times has a good interview on the global with Jason Bordoff, who heads the Center on Global Energy Policy at Columbia University, on everything from OPEC to EVs to LNG.