Data: Energy Institute at HAAS; Chart: Danielle Alberti/Axios

Black renters and homeowners face substantially higher residential energy costs than white residents, and these persistent differences are present almost throughout the income scale, a working paper from the Energy Institute at the Haas Business School shows.

Why it matters: The research "contributes to a broad set of evidence that black Americans bear a disproportionate burden of the current energy system" evident in both pollution exposure and cost, writes Eva Lyubich, a UC Berkeley doctoral candidate in economics.

How it works: The analysis compares residential energy costs by using Census Bureau data and then running an analysis that controls for household size, income and location.

  • It looked at expenses for electricity, natural gas and other home heating fuels.
  • The result? A clear racial gap present in homeowners' and renters' costs, albeit one that has narrowed to some extent.
  • The gap is "fairly stable" across income levels, though it closes at the very top of the income ladder.

By the numbers: "Energy expenditures for both groups are decreasing between 2010–2017, and the conditional gap in annual expenditures decreases by about $150 for the average household but continues to be economically significant at about $200 for renters and $310 for homeowners in 2017," the paper finds.

Between the lines: Learning precisely why the disparities exist and persist is tricky. Controlling for the type and age of homes does not significantly change the gap, the paper finds. But the paper zeroes in on energy efficiency disparities as a factor in the gap.

  • "Conditional on income, Black households are more likely to report that their home is drafty," the paper notes.
  • "They also report fewer Energy Star qualified appliances and home features, and are less likely to have received a rebate or tax credit for having upgraded an appliance."

The big picture: The new findings arrive amid a wider national reckoning about systemic racism and racial disparities in the wake of the police killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis.

Of note: The paper acknowledges its limitations, pointing out that it relies on self-reported census data on energy expenses. Lyubich writes that she's planning a follow-up analysis using residential billing data in California.

What they're saying: UC Berkeley economics professor Maximilian Auffhammer writes in a blog post about the findings:

"What we learned from Eva here is that so long as this energy cost inequity persists, any future carbon/energy tax, or other policy that raises energy costs, is likely to increase energy expenditures more for Black households — especially poor ones — than for white households in the same income bin. And that’s just wrong."

Go deeper: Energy industry joins calls denouncing racism

Go deeper

Larry Kudlow fights statistics on black-white wealth gap

Photo: "Axios on HBO"

White House economic adviser Larry Kudlow says he believes the wealth gap between black and white people has narrowed, and questioned statistics that show the gap now is as wide as it was in the 1960s.

Why it matters: In an interview with "Axios on HBO," President Trump's top economic adviser told Axios' Jonathan Swan that different measures of wealth suggest there has been progress — meaning the advice Trump is getting is out of sync with the conclusion of recent studies.

Big Oil's transatlantic divide on climate change policy

Reproduced from Goldman Sachs Investment Research; Chart: Axios Visuals

Big Oil's transatlantic split on climate change is really on display of late, with a couple of recent reports highlighting the differences.

Driving the news: "Royal Dutch Shell will announce a major restructuring by the end of the year as the energy company prepares to accelerate its shift towards low-carbon, CEO Ben van Beurden told employees," Reuters reports.

Most Americans think the federal government is doing too little on climate change

Reproduced from Pew Research Center; Chart: Axios Visuals

Roughly two-thirds (65%) of adults say the federal government is doing too little to curb the effects of climate change, according to Pew Research polling.

Why it matters: Overall, the poll finds both persistently deep partisan divides on climate and energy, but also some areas of agreement on policy.