Sign up for our daily briefing

Make your busy days simpler with Axios AM/PM. Catch up on what's new and why it matters in just 5 minutes.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Catch up on coronavirus stories and special reports, curated by Mike Allen everyday

Catch up on coronavirus stories and special reports, curated by Mike Allen everyday

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Denver news in your inbox

Catch up on the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Denver

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Des Moines news in your inbox

Catch up on the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Des Moines

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Minneapolis-St. Paul news in your inbox

Catch up on the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Twin Cities

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Tampa Bay news in your inbox

Catch up on the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Tampa Bay

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Charlotte news in your inbox

Catch up on the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Charlotte

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

A natural gas–fueled electricity generating power plant near Hermiston Oregon. Photo: Education Images/UIG via Getty Images

February to April of this year was the first three-month period in which the carbon intensity of total U.S. electricity generation fell below that of the U.S. gas-fired power fleet, per the latest available data from the Energy Information Administration.

Why it matters: This phenomenon challenges the conventional wisdom that gas will be the critical — even the primary — tool for decarbonizing the U.S. going forward. Although gas has played a prominent role in driving down U.S. emissions over the past decade, driving a switch from coal in many markets, it is likely that the more than $100 billion in planned new gas capacity will face increasing uncertainty, particularly in states with policies that mandate new generation to contribute to grid emissions reductions.

The other side: To be sure, gas still has a role to play, not only in replacing remaining coal generation, but also in supporting the intermittency of renewables — a growing challenge as the penetration of solar and wind increases.

Nevertheless, there are early signs of price-competitive solar-plus-storage or wind-plus-storage projects, such as in a recent Colorado auction, that would turn gas into renewables’ competitor, rather than complement, to play the role of base-load power.

What's next: These dynamics will make it only more important for U.S. gas production to have an export valve, so that it can be sent to international markets — such as China and India — where it still has a huge role to play in reducing emissions and air pollution. The threat of Chinese tariffs on U.S. gas exports will not help: Not only would they shrink one of the largest potential markets, but they would also cloud the outlook for a number prospective gas export facilities awaiting final investment decisions soon.

David Livingston is deputy director for climate and advanced energy at the Atlantic Council’s Global Energy Center.

Go deeper

The week the Trump show ended

Data: NewsWhip; Chart: Andrew Witherspoon/Axios

Donald Trump was eclipsed in media attention last week by President Biden for the first time since Trump took office, according to viewership data on the internet, on social media and on cable news.

Why it matters: After Trump crowded out nearly every other news figure and topic for five years, momentum of the new administration took hold last week and the former president retreated, partly by choice and partly by being forced off the big platforms.

Pay TV's bleak post-pandemic outlook

Data: eMarketer; Chart: Axios Visuals

The pandemic has taken a huge toll on the Pay-TV industry, and with the near-term future of live sports in question, there are no signs of it getting better in 2021.

Why it matters: The fraught Pay-TV landscape is forcing some smaller, niche cable channels out of business altogether.

2 hours ago - World

Biden sets his sights on China

Photo illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios. Photo: Frederic J. Brown/Getty Images  

The new administration's first few moves and statements on China suggest that President Biden may continue some of the Trump era's most assertive policies.

Why it matters: China's severe domestic repression, its dramatic rise as a technological superpower, and its increasingly aggressive actions around the globe mean that the world expects the American president to take action.

You’ve caught up. Now what?

Sign up for Mike Allen’s daily Axios AM and PM newsletters to get smarter, faster on the news that matters.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!