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 2 hours ago - Politics & Policy

U.S. officials: Iran and Russia aim to interfere in election

Iran and Russia have obtained voter registration information that can be used to undermine confidence in the U.S. election system, Director of National Intelligence John Ratcliffe announced at a press conference Wednesday evening.

Why it matters: The revelation comes roughly two weeks before Election Day. Ratcliffe said Iran has sent threatening emails to Democratic voters this week in states across the U.S. and spread videos claiming that people can vote more than once.

Updated 2 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

  1. Politics: Senate Democrats block vote on McConnell's targeted COVID relief bill McConnell urges White House not to strike stimulus deal before election.
  2. Economy: Why the stimulus delay isn't a crisis (yet).
  3. Health: New York reports most COVID cases since MayStudies show drop in coronavirus death rate — The next wave is gaining steam.
  4. Education: Schools haven't become hotspots — San Francisco public schools likely won't reopen before the end of the year.
  5. World: Spain becomes first nation in Western Europe to exceed 1 million cases.
Updated 3 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Supreme Court blocks Alabama curbside voting measure

Photo: Mark Wilson/Getty Images

The Supreme Court on Wednesday evening blocked a lower court order that would have allowed voters to cast ballots curbside at Alabama polling places on Election Day.

Whit it matters: With less than two weeks until Election Day, the justices voted 5-3 to reinstate the curbside voting ban and overturn a lower court judge's ruling designed to protect people with disabilities during the coronavirus pandemic.