Good Monday morning. I hope everyone had a great weekend. We have lots of news to share with you today, so let's get to it!
My latest Harder Line column takes stock of the essential but almost impossible effort to stand up carbon capture technology. It also has a scoop in it about an upcoming announcement, so check it out.
I'll hand things back to Ben after my column preview. You can always reach me at email@example.com with your tips and complaints and anything in between.
The Energy Department, the International Energy Agency, and possibly other agencies are making plans to announce in November an effort "to give new momentum" to carbon capture technology, Fatih Birol, IEA executive director, told me last week.
Why that matters: Fossil fuels accounted for 81% of the world's energy consumption in 1987. Thirty years later, it's still 81%.
This data point, shared with me by the IEA chief during an interview last week in Washington, shows why technology making fossil fuels cleaner is desperately needed to address climate change. Coal, oil, and natural gas aren't going anywhere, no matter the strides the world makes in renewables and other energy sources.
What's the problem: The technology at issue, which captures and stores carbon from fossil fuels instead of emitting it into the air, is too expensive and the obstacles to making it cheaper aren't going away. In some cases they're getting bigger, because of cheap oil and natural gas, technical snafus, and high-profile flops like the recent $7 billion failure of a Southern Company project that would have captured emissions from a coal power plant.
Read the rest of the column here.
Driving the news: House GOP leaders have unveiled Russian sanctions legislation that softens Senate-approved restrictions on U.S. companies' work with Russian firms on deepwater, Arctic, and shale projects.
The bill unveiled Saturday, which includes North Korea and Iran sanctions as well, only blocks involvement by U.S. companies if Russian interests hold at least a 33% stake in a project.
Buzz: Several oil industry sources told Axios over the weekend that the compromise bill addresses their biggest concerns with the Senate version.
Go deeper: Platts looks at what the bill means for the energy industry here.
What's next: The House is slated to vote Tuesday, and key senators have signaled that they're supportive of the new measure.
White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders told ABC yesterday that "we support where the legislation is now." However, new White House communications director Anthony Scaramucci told CNN Sunday that he anticipated that Trump would make a decision "shortly" about whether to sign the bill.
A few podcasts of interest...
Whirlwind tour: The new episode of the Energy Department's Direct Current podcast is an interesting audio roadtrip that visits all 17 national labs, spending a minute on each and highlighting one research area.
California and climate: Greentech Media's latest Energy Gang podcastdiscusses the deal struck between California lawmakers and Gov. Jerry Brown to extend the state's cap-and-trade program through 2030. They also chat about the recent departure of several Tesla executives, and more.
Ethanol: The new Platts Capitol Crude has a wide-ranging interview with top ethanol lobbyist Bob Dinneen, CEO of the Renewable Fuels Association. A few takeaways...
Look before you leap: Over the Axios science stream, Jeff Nesbit has a good look at new papers and commentary in Science magazine on geoengineering. Here's one important blurb from his piece:
Jeff's piece explores the pros and cons of two options — injecting sulfur particles into the stratosphere to reflect more heat back into space, and artificially thinning the high-altitude cirrus clouds that trap some heat coming from earth.
Why it matters: Geoengineering — that is, large-scale attempts to alter the environment to slow or reverse warming — is getting more attention amid projections that warming is likely to exceed 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels.
Big oil spending dips: Lots of second-quarter reports have surfaced and it looks like lobbying outlays by the biggest industry players, while still quite large, dipped somewhat in the April-June period compared with the prior quarter.
Beyond the sanctions vote noted above, here's a few other things on this week's energy calendar:
Senate: The Senate will vote this evening to confirm David Bernhardt as deputy secretary of the Interior. An Environment and Public Works Committee panel will convene Tuesday for a look at the state of clean energy tech.
House: The full House will debate a package of several spending bills that includes an effort to slash DOE funding for green energy R&D...a House Science Committee panel will look at biofuels research and markets on Tuesday...a House Energy and Commerce subcommittee will hear Wednesday from the heads of the nation's regional electricity system operators...a Natural Resources Committee panel will meet Thursday to discuss several bills, including a measure to thwart use of the "social cost of carbon" in rulemakings.
Markets: Earnings season is in full swing. Several large oil companies will report second-quarter results this week, including Exxon, Chevron, and Shell. Electric automaker Tesla's closely watched report arrives the following week.
EPA: In case you missed it, Amy reported Friday afternoon that the White House is likely to tap coal industry lobbying Andrew Wheeler for the number two slot at EPA.
Wind power: The BBC looks at a big floating wind farm that's under development off the coast of Scotland and the "jaw-dropping" dimensions of Statoil's technology, including turbine blades that rival the wingspan of an Airbus.
OPEC: A couple of dispatches from today's closely watched meeting in Russia of officials from OPEC producers and other parties to the supply-cutting deal.
Climate change: The Washington Post looks back at what Scaramucci said on the risks of climate change before arriving in Trump's orbit last year.
Trump's moves towards "red team": The Washington Examiner reports that the Trump administration is seeking help from the Heartland Institute as it prepares to launch a new critique of global warming science.
The Heartland Institute is known for disputing mainstream scientific views on climate change and giving voice to researchers at the fringes of the topic.