Photo: Chris Kleponis, Pool / Getty Images

HOUSTON — Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke is defending White House plans to impose new tariffs on steel and aluminum imports, even as the oil-and-gas industry warns that the penalties will raise project costs.

Why it matters: Energy companies are warning of elevated prices for steel needed for extraction and pipelines that they're unable to source domestically and urging the Trump administration to include some flexibility in the policy.

“I agree with the president that national security-wise, you have to have produced steel and aluminum in this country, and that industry has atrophied too far."
— Zinke to reporters when asked whether he's concerned about the tariffs' effect on companies

To be sure: “Long-term tariffs generally disrupt free markets and raise costs, but it is also incumbent on the American steel companies themselves — they have to re-fit and rebuild, just like these guys did,” Zinke said, referring the oil-and-gas industry's moves to lower their cost structure.

The big picture: Zinke's onstage remarks to the big CERAWeek by IHS Markit energy conference strongly touted Interior's moves to boost oil-and-gas industry access to federal lands and waters and ease regulations.

What's next: Zinke called the March 21 Gulf of Mexico lease sale a "bellwether" for the industry's interest in offshore acreage at a time when onshore shale development is booming in the Permian Basin region of Texas and New Mexico. “We will see what the future of offshore is in comparison to the Permian,” he said.

Go deeper

Updated 30 mins ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of 9:30 p.m. ET: 19,778,566— Total deaths: 729,768 — Total recoveries — 12,044,654Map.
  2. U.S.: Total confirmed cases as of 9:30 p.m. ET: 5,044,69 — Total deaths: 162,938 — Total recoveries: 1,656,864 — Total tests: 61,792,571Map.
  3. Politics: Pelosi says states don't have the funds to comply with Trump's executive order on unemployment — Mnuchin says Trump executive orders were cleared by Justice Department.
  4. States: New York reports lowest rate of positive coronavirus test results since pandemic began
  5. Public health: Ex-FDA head: U.S. will "definitely" see 200,000 to 300,000 virus deaths by end of 2020. 
  6. Schools: Nine test positive at Georgia school where photo showing packed hallway went viral — How back-to-school is playing out in the South as coronavirus rages on.
Updated 49 mins ago - World

Hong Kong media tycoon Jimmy Lai arrested under national security law

Media tycoon Jimmy Lai at the Next Digital offices in Hong Kong in June. Photo: Anthony Wallace/AFP via Getty Images

Hong Kong pro-democracy activist Jimmy Lai has been arrested for "collusion with foreign powers," said Mark Simon, an executive at the tycoon's media firm Next Digital Monday morning local time.

Why it matters: He was arrested under the new national security law that gives Beijing more powers over the former British colony. Lai is the most prominent person arrested under the law, which prompted the U.S. to sanction Chinese officials, including Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam, over Beijing's efforts to strip the territory of its autonomy.

New York reports new low positive coronavirus test rate

People physically distancing at tables in New York City's Times Square in June. Photo: Johannes Eisele/AFP via Getty Images

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) announced Sunday 515 people, or 0.78% of those tested, returned a positive reading for COVID-19 the previous day.

Why it matters: It's the lowest single-day positive rate since the start of the pandemic. It's another sign that the state that was once a global coronavirus epicenter is curbing the spread of the virus. "Our daily numbers remain low and steady, despite increasing infection rates across the country, and even in our region," Cuomo said in a statement. "But we must not become complacent: Everyone should continue to wear their masks and socially distance."

Go deeper: Cuomo says all New York schools can reopen for in-person learning