Photo: Doug Mills-Pool/Getty Images

President Trump tweeted Tuesday that the Energy and Treasury departments will “formulate a plan” to help the oil and gas industry, which is imploding as a result of rock-bottom prices.

Reality check: Trump’s policy levers are limited in nature and cannot change the overall downward trajectory of oil prices, which have spiraled dramatically as the coronavirus has choked off demand for oil.

One level deeper: Trump renewed his push Monday for the government to buy roughly 75 million barrels of oil for the Strategic Petroleum Reserve — or, alternatively, offer part of the SPR as basically a rental storage unit for U.S. companies.

  • "This is a great time to buy oil," Trump said. Congress has not funded the effort thus far in its coronavirus relief bills.
  • Trump also touted plans to use the SPR as storage space. "We're going to ... either ask for permission to buy it, or we'll store it," he said.
  • The Energy Department last week said it's negotiating with nine companies to store roughly 23 million barrels of oil in the SPR.

What we’re watching: What kinds of policies are born out of Trump’s tweet.

  • Trump's reference to the Treasury Department indicates he may try to give some sort of fiscal or tax relief, which could help some companies but won’t provide an overall lift to the sector.
  • The president has also floated taxing imports of oil, which countries like Saudi Arabia are opposed to.

Go deeper

Ben Geman, author of Generate
Jul 29, 2020 - Energy & Environment

Trump heads to Texas oil patch as “dominance” agenda teeters

Data: FactSet; Chart: Axios Visuals

President Trump will tout his policy of "restoring energy dominance" in Texas oil country Wednesday, but market forces, OPEC and a raging pandemic are complicating his plans.

Driving the news: Trump's swing through the state today includes a visit in Midland to a Double Eagle Energy oil rig and speech on energy, and a fundraiser in Odessa.

1 hour ago - World

China embraces hostage diplomacy

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

The Chinese government is threatening to detain foreign citizens unless their home governments do what Beijing demands. In some cases, China has already made good on those threats.

The big picture: This marks a potential evolution of China's "wolf warrior diplomacy" to outright rogue state behavior, putting it in the company of countries like North Korea and Iran, which have also engaged in hostage diplomacy.

Justice Department sues Google over alleged search monopoly

Illustration: Lazaro Gamio/Axios

The Justice Department and 11 states Tuesday filed an antitrust lawsuit against Google, accusing the company of using anticompetitive tactics to illegally monopolize the online search and search advertising markets.

Why it matters: The long-awaited suit is Washington's first major blow against the tech giants that many on both the right and left argue have grown too large and powerful. Still, this is just step one in what could be a lengthy and messy court battle.