Mar 6, 2018

Zinke defends Trump's tariffs despite energy industry worries

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

Heat wave melts 20% of snow cover from Antarctic island in days

The effects of February's record heat wave on Eagle Island in Antarctica. Photo: NASA

Antarctica's Eagle Island now has a side that's almost ice-free following this month's searing heat wave, images released by NASA show.

Why it maters: "The warm spell caused widespread melting on nearby glaciers," NASA said in its report. It's the third major melt event of the 2019-2020 Southern Hemisphere summer, following warm spells in January and last November, according to the United Nation's World Meteorological Organization (WMO).

Bernie Sanders wins Nevada caucus

Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders waves to supporters at a campaign rally on Friday in Las Vegas. Photo: Mario Tama/Getty Images

Sen. Bernie Sanders is projected to handily win the Nevada Democratic primary caucus, becoming the clear frontrunner among 2020 Democratic presidential primary election candidates.

Why it matters: Nevada is the first state with a diverse population to hold a nominating contest, highlighting candidates' abilities to connect with voters of color — particularly Latino voters.

Go deeperArrowUpdated 2 hours ago - Politics & Policy

South Korea and Italy see spikes in coronavirus cases

Data: The Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins, the CDC, and China's Health Ministry. Note: China numbers are for the mainland only and U.S. numbers include repatriated citizens.

The novel coronavirus has spread to more nations, and the U.S. reports a doubling of its confirmed cases to 34 — while noting these are mostly due to repatriated citizens, emphasizing there's no "community spread" yet in the United States.

The big picture: COVID-19 has now killed at least 2,362 people and infected more than 77,000 others, mostly in mainland China. New countries to announce infections recently include Israel and Lebanon, while Iran reported its sixth death from the virus. South Korea's confirmed cases jumped from 204 Friday to 433 on Saturday and Italy's case count rose from 3 to 62 by Saturday.

Go deeperArrowUpdated 6 hours ago - Health