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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 4 hours ago - World

U.S. airstrike kills senior al-Qaeda leader in Syria, DOD says

A displacement camp near the village of Qah in Syria's northwestern Idlib province. Photo: Ahmad Al-Atrash/AFP via Getty Images

A U.S. airstrike in northwest Syria on Friday killed senior al-Qaeda leader Abdul Hamid al-Matar, U.S. Central Command said in a statement.

Why it matters: Syria serves as a "safe haven" for the extremist group to plan external operations, according to U.S. Army Maj. John Rigsbee.

Updated 10 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Giuliani associate Lev Parnas convicted of campaign finance crimes

Lev Parnas, a former associate of then-President Donald Trump’s personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani. Photo: Stefani Reynolds/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Florida businessman Lev Parnas was convicted Friday on charges of conspiracy to make foreign contributions to political campaigns, according to multiple outlets.

Why it matters: Prosecutors said Parnas, then an associate of former President Donald Trump's personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani, funneled over $150,000 from a Russian businessman into U.S. campaigns as part of an effort to land licenses in the U.S.'s legal cannabis industry.

Supreme Court agrees to hear challenges to Texas abortion law

Photo: Saul Loeb/AFP via Getty Images

The Supreme Court on Friday agreed to hear two cases challenging Texas' abortion law, which bans the procedure as soon as six weeks into pregnancy, but left the law in place in the meantime.

Why it matters: The court is moving extraordinarily fast on the Texas cases, compressing into just a few days a process that normally takes months. And that schedule means the court will take up Texas' ban a month before it hears another major abortion case — a challenge to Mississippi's own 2018 ban on abortions after 15 weeks.