🚀 Off we go! We've got a newsy edition that runs just 1,239 words, 4.5 minutes.

🚨 Situational awareness: Troubled EV startup Fisker filed for bankruptcy protection late yesterday with plans to sell its assets. Go deeper.

🧹 Housekeeping note: We'll be off tomorrow in honor of Juneteenth. See you Thursday.

🎙️ Exactly 45 years ago, the late Donna Summer was No. 1 on Billboard's album chart with the brilliant classic "Bad Girls," which provides today's intro tune...

1 big thing: What makes this heat wave so risky

A map of the United States showing the NWS HeatRisk forecast for June 21, 2024. The NWS HeatRisk is an experimental index that provides a forecast risk of heat-related impacts to occur over a 24-hour period.  Significant areas of the Midwest and the East Coast are shown in purple, indicating extreme heat risk, while parts of the West and South are depicted in pink and orange, indicating major and moderate heat risk respectively.
Note: Forecast as of June 17, 3pm ET; Data: National Weather Service; Map: Jared Whalen/Axios

The heat wave sending temperatures soaring well into the 90s°F to around 100°F from the Midwest to the Northeast is a slow-motion disaster that gets progressively more harmful each day.

Why it matters: The heat wave is a public health threat as well as an economic blow. It is also intricately tied to human-caused climate change, which is likely worsening the heat's magnitude and duration.

Threat level: Three aspects of this heat wave make it particularly dangerous.

  • First is the timing, since such heat is so rare at this time of year.
  • Then there's the fact that it is the season's first heat wave. This heightens the risk to those without access to cooling, the very young and elderly, and those with chronic health conditions.
  • Lastly, there's the duration. Long-lasting events are more likely to lead to infrastructure malfunctions, from power outages to the melting of airport tarmacs.
  • This event will feature day after day and night after night of record-breaking temperatures.

Extreme heat also slows outdoor work and snarls transportation networks, particularly railways and airports.

  • And longer heat waves escalate human health risks.

Zoom in: Studies have shown that economic productivity takes a hit during extreme heat events and that climate change is likely to worsen these impacts in the future.

Between the lines: This particular heat wave is likely to slowly build throughout the week in East Coast cities from Washington to Boston, while also affecting inland regions from Ohio to southeastern Canada.

  • In D.C. and Philadelphia, the Friday-through-Sunday period could see both cities flirt with the century mark each day — a rarity in any summer, let alone during mid-June.

The intrigue: The ongoing, high-impact extreme heat event will be felt by at least 230 million people, yield disruptions in transit, and potentially crowd emergency rooms with patients experiencing heat-related illness.

Read more

2. Breaking: Biden officials complete climate law labor rules

Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

The Treasury Department just issued final rules governing how "clean" energy developers can tap generous tax credits by meeting wage and apprentice requirements.

Why it matters: Meeting labor standards provides far larger incentives under the 2022 climate law — up to five times the statute's "base" credits.

  • These wider subsidies became available in early 2023. But officials say detailed final standards give developers more clarity to proceed with projects.

Between the lines: Politically, White House officials are keen to argue that President Biden's climate policies help U.S. workers.

  • The climate law provides hundreds of billions of dollars worth of incentives, but polling shows limited public awareness of the efforts.
  • "Woven into the fabric of those tax credits are game-changing incentives for companies to create good-paying union jobs," John Podesta, a top White House climate aide, told reporters.

State of play: The rules, a priority for organized labor, cover solar, hydrogen, carbon capture and many more types of projects.

  • They fill in more details on complying with prevailing wages for laborers and mechanics and use of registered apprenticeship programs.
  • North America's Building Trades Unions president Sean McGarvey told reporters that, based on his discussions with investors and developers, the final rules will prompt a number to "hit the go button" on projects.

What we're watching: The climate law is already spurring new development, so watch how completion of the rules ultimately affects the pace of tech deployment.

3. Bonus policy notes: congestion pricing, nuclear waste, reactor finance

Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

🚗 Big climate groups see New York Gov. Kathy Hochul's decision to freeze congestion pricing in Manhattan as a nationwide setback, a new joint letter to her shows.

  • Why it matters: They were looking to the planned program, which Hochul stunningly halted June 5, as a template for targeting auto emissions.
  • What they're saying: Evergreen Action Executive Director Lena Moffitt, in a wider statement, said New York's program "stood to provide a policy roadmap for states."
  • The big picture: The other groups on the letter are the Sierra Club, Earthjustice, the Environmental Defense Fund and the League of Conservation Voters.

⚛️ The Energy Department is taking initial steps toward doling out $900 million to help spur deployment of next-wave small modular reactors.

⚖️ The Biden administration wants the Supreme Court to review whether federal nuclear regulators can license a private, stand-alone site for temporarily storing spent commercial reactor fuel.

  • Why it matters: The Nuclear Regulatory Commission petition follows an appellate ruling that thwarted a proposed Texas facility. And more broadly it could influence federal efforts to address 90,000 metric tons of spent fuel stored at more than 70 nuclear plants. H/t Bloomberg Law, which has more.

4. Jupiter Intelligence adds climate risk AI tool

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

A prominent startup is deploying generative AI to try to democratize climate risk analytics beyond cloistered and specialized data science teams.

The big picture: Jupiter Intelligence, a firm specializing in calculating and communicating climate risk information, is placing generative AI at the point of interaction between a subscriber to Jupiter's existing services and its vast databases.

  • This allows them to interact with complex climate information in a more seamless way by asking plain language questions and receiving easy-to-understand answers.

Zoom in: The technology allows researchers at, say, an insurance company to ask questions about climate peril risks, damage and loss, and economic impacts of companies they protect.

  • The generative AI component does the behind-the-scenes coding to produce the results as well as make suggestions for other related queries.
  • Jupiter Intelligence CEO Rich Sorkin tells Axios the approach is to use AI as a "force multiplier" to "close the climate skills gap" that exists at many companies.

The bottom line: The new capability demonstrates how generative AI is being integrated into the climate risk analytics space, which has become an increasingly crowded business sector in recent years.

5. Petro-news: Exxon's court conclusion and Shell's LNG move

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

🔚 A federal judge dismissed Exxon's closely watched lawsuit against activist investors who pushed a shareholder resolution seeking far stronger climate targets.

  • Why it matters: Exxon and major business groups say the SEC is failing to let companies bar resolutions that don't boost shareholder value. But critics accused the oil giant of bullying tactics that could chill advocacy.
  • Driving the news: Arjuna Capital's withdrawal of the resolution and detailed pledges not to launch similar efforts were enough to moot the case, Texas district judge Mark Pittman ruled late yesterday. Axios' Kia Kokalitcheva has more.

🤝 Via Bloomberg, "Shell Plc agreed to buy liquefied natural gas trader Pavilion Energy Pte, the latest bet by the oil major that demand for the fuel will continue rising."

6. Charted: China's nuclear boom

A stacked bar chart that displays the number of fully operational and under-construction nuclear power plants in select countries as of May 2024. The U.S. leads with 94 operational plants, while China has the most under construction at 27. China and France each have 56 operational plants, followed by Russia at 37, South Korea at 26 and Canada at 19.
Reproduced from ITIF report using IAEA data; Chart: Axios Visuals

This chart☝helps explain how the U.S. has fallen behind China in advanced nuclear industries, a new Information Technology and Innovation Foundation analysis argues.

Why it matters: China, a geopolitical rival, is using domestic development to position itself for a major role in export markets, per the think tank's report.

The big picture: The U.S., once a leader, is playing catch-up, the analysis from ITIF's Stephen Ezell states.

  • "China likely stands 10 to 15 years ahead of where the United States is in nuclear power (referring especially to the ability to field fourth-generation nuclear reactors)," it finds.

What's next: The Biden administration has several nuclear research and deployment programs.

But the report offers a suite of recommendations for a more aggressive, "whole of government" approach.

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🙏 Thanks to Chris Speckhard and Chuck McCutcheon for edits to today's edition, along with the brilliant Axios Visuals team.