Happy new year and welcome back!
Situational awareness: "Tesla disappointed investors Tuesday, saying it delivered less vehicles than expected during the fourth quarter despite efforts to ramp up production," CNBC reports.
And, it's 2019, which of course means TLC's "CrazySexyCool" turns 25 this year, so let's creep into the news...
Several new developments suggest that global warming might not just be an afterthought in another presidential race.
Where it stands: The 2020 White House election cycle got rolling during our holiday break — including some early positioning on climate change.
1. Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) told Axios through an aide yesterday that she broadly supports the idea of a Green New Deal.
2. Washington state Gov. Jay Inslee plans to get into the race and run a climate-focused campaign, per this morning's The Atlantic.
3. Billionaire Michael Bloomberg signaled on Sunday's "Meet the Press" that he aims to elevate the role of climate in the 2020 race, whether he runs or not.
The big picture: There's growing momentum among Democrats behind the Green New Deal, raising the odds it will be on the national political agenda as the 2020 cycle unfolds.
The odds: There are other reasons to think climate might buck precedent and actually make more than just cameo appearances in a national election.
Warren addresses the media Dec. 31 after forming an exploratory committee for a 2020 presidential run. Photo: Scott Eisen/Getty Images.
"Senator Warren has been a longtime advocate of aggressively addressing climate change and shifting toward renewables, and supports the idea of a Green New Deal to ambitiously tackle our climate crisis, economic inequality, and racial injustice."— Senate aide for Elizabeth Warren tells Axios
Quick take: While climate hasn't been a big focus for Warren in the Senate, the Green New Deal concept could fit within Warren's campaign narrative on economic inequality.
But, but, but: Warren scarcely grazed energy and climate in Monday's rollout of a 2020 exploratory committee.
The intrigue: Turning back to the Green New Deal specifically, it's impossible to get a handle on the depth of the support right now.
Ocasio-Cortez and activists with the Sunrise Movement and Justice Democrats want House Democratic leaders to establish a select committee that would create a detailed proposal.
Details: The sweeping Ocasio-Cortez proposal calls for writing a detailed plan by early 2020 to meet a suite of goals including:
Oil prices are heading back downward this morning, even though they've bounced back somewhat from the pre-Christmas trough that briefly saw Brent crude dip below $50-per-barrel.
Where it stands: This morning, WTI crude was trading around $44.71 and Brent at $53.17.
Why it matters: The steep decline over the last 3 months shows the challenge facing OPEC members and allied petro-states as they try and stabilize the market to bolster their finances.
What's next: A number of experts see oil climbing, although there's a lot of variation in estimates of how much.
EV batteries: From the blast-from-the-past files, the Financial Times reports "Erik Prince, the founder of private security company Blackwater, is launching a fund to capitalise on the scramble for battery metals across Africa and Asia, as the world’s largest carmakers gear up to go electric."
LNG: Per the Houston Chronicle, "The growth of the Gulf Coast’s liquefied natural gas industry is set to accelerate in 2019 as at least three major projects are expected to get the go-ahead from developers."
Coal: The Wall Street Journal reports on a sign of the times: "Coal production from the Powder River Basin, an arid region spread over parts of Wyoming and Montana that produces about 40% of all U.S. coal, has declined by one-third between 2008 and 2017. It is expected to continue to drop in 2019."
Storage: Greentech Media's wide-angle look at what's next for the power sector in 2019 includes this forecast...
Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios
Almost 2 years into his push to unwind Obama-era energy regulations, President Trump's attempt to help the coal industry faces an uphill climb, while separate market forces may ultimately limit his moves to expand the oil boom into new regions.
But, but, but: The sweeping effort to remake regulations — which spans dozens of rules — will have consequences beyond the most high-profile fights. More on that in a moment.
Where it stands: When it comes to one of Trump's biggest energy pledges, to end what he and other Obama critics called the "war on coal," the president hasn't turned the tide.
The odds: It's unlikely the power industry's calculus will be altered greatly once revisions to various pollution rules are complete, although decisions about whether to keep some specific plants running could very well change.
When it comes to oil and natural gas, the domestic boom that began around a decade ago has continued under Trump, with U.S. oil production now far above record levels at roughly 11.5 million bpd.
Reality check: It's true that the Interior Department is offering more leases on public lands in western states, and the number of drilling permits approved and producing leases has ticked up.
What's next: Several of the biggest moves are at the midway point of the bureaucratic process or tied up in court, so the ultimate result won't be known for years.
Let's spend a little more time with the 2-year anniversary of the Trump era, as sometimes the most consequential changes to the massive federal regulatory apparatus are not always the ones that get the most press.
What's happening: Officials are altering the way costs and benefits of environmental and public health regulations are considered more broadly.
What they're saying: “There is a quiet revolution going on,” University of Chicago economist Michael Greenstone says.
What to watch: Greenstone, who directs the university’s Energy Policy Institute, says one area where results of these efforts will be evident when EPA reviews air quality standards for pollutants like soot and ozone.
The big picture: A few days ago the New York Times ran an in-depth look at the on-the-ground health and environmental effects of changes to regulations around pesticides, venting and flaring of methane from oil-and-gas wells, and more.
ICYMI: TerraPower, a nuclear-energy company founded by Bill Gates, is unlikely to follow through on building a demonstration reactor in China, due largely to the Trump administration’s crackdown on the country, Axios' Amy Harder reports.
Why it matters: This is a blow to America's attempts to commercialize advanced, smaller scale nuclear technology. Separately, it also offers further evidence of soured relations between the U.S. and China under Trump.
Driving the news: In a year-end blog post covering various topics published Saturday night, Gates said of TerraPower, “We had hoped to build a pilot project in China, but recent policy changes here in the U.S. have made that unlikely.”
Background: The Trump administration, led by the Energy Department, announced in October that it was implementing measures to “prevent China’s illegal diversion of U.S. civil nuclear technology for military or other unauthorized purposes.”