Good morning and happy April 26!
Back in 1997, the late Notorious B.I.G. had just ascended the top of the Billboard hip-hop charts with today's intro tune . . .
Oil-and-gas giants Shell and Total, two of the world's largest energy companies, both reported a big jump in first-quarter profits.
Why it matters: The earnings show the fruits of the oil price recovery, which recently saw prices at their highest levels in over 3 years thanks to lower global stockpiles, geopolitical tensions and other forces.
Shell's earnings: The company reported over $5.3 billion in profits, a 42% rise from the same period last year.
France-based Total, meanwhile, reported a $2.9 billion haul, which is a 13% rise.
* * *
Breaking: The large U.S. oil-and-gas producer ConocoPhillips reported nearly $900 million in first-quarter profits on Thursday morning, up from nearly $600 million in the same period last year.
Why it matters: It's Pruitt's highest-profile and most politically perilous moment since he began the job over a year ago.
What to watch: Look for Democrats to focus their questioning intensely on the ethics woes. Yes, yes that might seem obvious, but typically these kinds of hearings are heavy on district-specific questions and generally just a grab-bag of topics.
Pruitt's plan: The New York Times obtained an internal EPA prep document that reveals he "may blame his staff for many of the decisions that have put a cloud over his tenure at the agency."
Nice industrial site you have there: The Washington Post's table setter for the hearing notes...
A newly published study in Applied Energy finds that nuclear plants can shift to flexible output levels in a way that nicely complements increasing penetration of renewable power sources.
Nuclear-hot take: As the study notes, U.S. nuclear power plants are often portrayed as only behemoth baseload resources that inflexibly generate huge amounts of power. But that doesn't have to be true and isn't in some other countries, according to researchers with MIT and Argonne National Laboratory.
Why it matters: The researchers explore a way in which greatly expanded use of variable wind and solar can pair with flexible nuclear power in order to help decarbonize the power grid.
What they said: "[F]lexible nuclear power operations are a 'win-win-win' lowering total power system operating costs, increasing revenues for nuclear plant owners, and significantly reducing curtailment of renewable energy," the paper states.
One more thing: MIT energy expert Jesse Jenkins, the lead author, breaks down the analysis in this Twitter thread.
Trendspotting: A new federal report takes stock of subsidies for various energy sources in recent years, showing a substantial decline between fiscal years 2013 and 2016.
The details, per the Energy Information Administration summary:
One level deeper: The decline in overall renewable power subsidies largely reflects the winding down of a stimulus-law program that allowed developers to receive grants for wind and solar projects in lieu of tax credits. EIA said:
It's worth noting that going forward, the price tag for renewable electricity project tax credits specifically is forecast to rise for years as those industries grow.
Yes, but: The parameters of any study of energy subsidies is more art than science, and this one does not capture certain fossil fuel incentives.
New record: U.S. crude oil exports averaged a new record 2.33 million barrels per day for the week ending April 20, according to EIA data released yesterday.
Go deeper: Export amounts bounce around from week to week, but Bloomberg reports that levels above 2 million barrels per day "may soon be the new normal."
BMW: Via Business Insider, BMW unveiled an electric SUV model called the iX3 at the Beijing auto show, a vehicle that BMW said will have over 249 miles of range and a motor with more than 270 horsepower.
Honda: Per CNET, the Japanese automaker launched its Everus electric vehicle brand at the Beijing show, revealing the first model as a compact SUV concept, which is based on its existing HR-V vehicle. CNET says:
"The Everus, set to go on sale later this year, is the first Chinese market exclusive mass-production electric vehicle to come from Honda, although interestingly, the car won't be badged as a Honda. Everus seems to be the Chinese electric brand equivalent to Acura."
Porsche: Per Bloomberg, "Porsche set one of the industry’s most aggressive targets for selling plug-in hybrid and battery-powered cars, predicting the vehicles will make up as many as half of its deliveries by 2025 in a sign the shift to electric models is speeding up."
Startups: The Wall Street Journal reports Thursday that "Japan’s SoftBank Group Corp. is in talks to purchase a large chunk of shares in the upcoming initial public offering of Chinese electric-vehicle maker NIO."
My Axios colleague Kia Kokalitcheva reports from the West Coast...
The "scooter wars” are raging in San Francisco (and other cities), but one scooter is emerging victorious: the Xiaomi Mi electric scooter, used by several of the startups.
Why it matters: For now, these scooter companies have found a reliable vehicle in the Xiaomi product — but as this war heats up, they may find that designing and manufacturing their own scooters will help differentiate them.
The details: Though it sports the Xiaomi brand, the Mi electric scooter is actually designed by Ninebot, which was founded in 2012 in Beijing by Wang Ye and Lufeng Gao.
Quick take: This could mean Segway just might become part of the future of transportation after all.
Go deeper: Click here for the whole story.