Essential energy industry news & intel to start your day.
April 16, 2021
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Public Interest in EVs Has Grown Since January, With Millennials and Democrats Driving the Biggest Increases

As you may have noticed, Morning Consult has begun taking a close look at the country’s interest in electric vehicles, as legacy brands and startups double down on the technology and the Biden administration pushes for major investments in charging and other EV infrastructure. In my latest story — in collaboration with my Brands reporter colleague Alyssa Meyers — we asked U.S. adults if they would consider buying an EV in the next decade, and compared the results with January responses to the same question, run just a few days after President Joe Biden’s inauguration. What we found: a small jump forward in interest among the whole population, but especially among millennials and Democrats. This came with an open-end analysis of which brands people associate with both EVs and “eco-friendly” cars more broadly, which found Tesla Inc. was the standout among its corporate competitors. Read more here.


Top Stories

  • The Interior Department will delay for two years a decision on whether to open 28 million acres of public land in Alaska to mining. In the interim, the Bureau of Land Management plans to review and potentially amend the Trump administration analysis of the proposed opening, which prompted five public lands orders that would have opened the lands to mineral and mining development, and were signed during former-President Donald Trump’s final week on the job. (The Hill)
  • The Biden administration is weighing whether to single out methane for more significant emissions reductions as a part of its overall review of the country’s greenhouse gas emission reduction pledge, which is set to be unveiled next week, according to two people familiar with the matter. More dramatic methane reductions would most impact the oil industry, which has prompted some wariness from administration officials skeptical about appearing to attack the industry, the people said. (Bloomberg)
  • The country’s largest gas driller, EQT Corp., has called for more stringent limits on methane leaks from natural gas wells and said it would support congressional resolutions condemning the Trump administration’s relaxation of Obama-era caps on methane emissions from oil and gas wells. Chief Executive Toby Rice said his company and an “overwhelming majority” of the industry can immediately comply with the restored federal standards following years of efforts to reduce their own emissions. (Bloomberg)

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Events Calendar (All Times Local)


What Else You Need to Know


U.S. trade representative uses her first speech to call for action on climate change.

Thomas Kaplan and Brad Plumer, The New York Times

Katherine Tai, the United States trade representative, made a case on Thursday for using trade policies to fight climate change, devoting her first speech in her new position to addressing one of President Biden’s top priorities.


These Energy Companies Are Poised to Win Under Biden’s Plan

Ari Natter, Bloomberg

President Joe Biden’s $2.25 trillion infrastructure bill could be a bonanza for the energy sector. If the legislative proposal passes Congress, it’s poised to unleash billions in spending on the energy sector alone — and those federal funds are sure to catalyze other spending as well.


Interior Department to reconvene council on Native American issues

Zack Budryk, The Hill

The White House will reconvene its Council on Native American Affairs next week after nearly five years with no regular meetings, the Interior Department announced Thursday.

Climate Change and Emissions

Senate Democrats float climate diplomacy plan ahead of White House summit

Ben Geman, Axios

Senior Senate Democrats will introduce legislation on Thursday designed to make climate change a pillar of U.S. diplomacy, boosting initiatives to help other nations cut emissions and adapt to a warming world, Axios has learned.


Google Earth adds time lapse video to depict climate change

Michael Liedtke, The Associated Press

The Google Earth app is adding a new video feature that draws upon nearly four decades of satellite imagery to vividly illustrate how climate change has affected glaciers, beaches, forests and other places around the world.


California enlists surveillance satellites to sniff out greenhouse gas ‘super-emitters’

Tony Barboza, Los Angeles Times

Years after former Gov. Jerry Brown pledged California would launch its “own damn satellite” to track planet-warming pollutants, the state plans to put not one, but two satellites in orbit to help it hunt for hard-to-find “super-emitters” of methane and carbon dioxide.


Biden’s climate duo of Kerry and McCarthy puts U.S. back in global warming fight

Jeff Mason, Reuters

An unlikely duo is steering President Joe Biden’s efforts to restore U.S. credibility on fighting climate change: a patrician former presidential candidate and a plain-speaking, long-time civil servant – both with Boston roots and baseball loyalties.


How direct air capture works (and why it’s important)


Climeworks operates multiple direct air capture plants around the world and is currently building the world’s largest climate-positive direct air capture plant in Iceland.


How much does the US owe the rest of the world for climate change?

Tim McDonnell, Quartz

John Kerry, America’s special envoy on climate change, is on a whirlwind global tour to drum up support for a climate “leaders summit” on Earth Day next week. He’s hoping to re-establish the US as a climate leader and extract more serious ambition from his peers, but has been dogged by a familiar complaint from officials in developing economies: the global race to eliminate greenhouse gas emissions is fundamentally unfair.

Renewables and Storage

The Battery-Powered Future Depends on a Few Crucial Metals

Will Mathis and Akshat Rathi, Bloomberg

In the big, exciting future that’s measured in kilowatt- and gigawatt-hours, batteries are enabling mass electrification across many sectors. The rapid decline in battery prices has ensured burgeoning interest from electric-vehicle makers and consumer-electronics manufacturers—even from the energy industry, for enormous stationary storage systems operating on the power grid.


Researchers see links between renewable energy and improved health

Chia-Yi Hou, The Hill

Researchers are drawing more connections between reducing air pollution from fossil fuels and potential improvements to both mental and physical health.


Facebook meets 100% renewable energy goal with over 6 GW of wind, solar

Iulia Gheorghiu, Utility Dive

Facebook said Thursday it had procured enough new renewable projects to meet 100% of energy needs for its global operations through clean resources, as of last year.

Oil, Gas and Alternative Fuels

The Delaware River Basin paradox: Why fracking is so hard to quit

Zoya Teirstein, Grist

The regulatory agency charged with protecting the Delaware River Basin both banned fracking and paved the way for an LNG export facility within a few months, demonstrating just how hard it is to sever ties with natural gas.


Iran Boosts Oil Exports Amid Nuclear Deal Talks

Benoit Faucon, The Wall Street Journal

Iran’s sanctioned oil production has risen to its highest level in almost two years thanks to growing Chinese imports—a development that could lessen the West’s leverage in talks over reviving a nuclear deal with Tehran.


To Win Electric-Vehicle Wars, Europe’s Auto CEOs Want More Taxes on Gas Guzzlers

William Boston, The Wall Street Journal

Auto makers in Europe eager to boost sales of their electric vehicles have a new strategy: Demanding higher taxes on conventional vehicles that burn gas and diesel fuel.


Mercedes Enters New Era With Flagship Sedan Going Electric

Christoph Rauwald, Bloomberg

Mercedes-Benz has long billed the S-Class as the pinnacle of luxury and performance for the combustion age. It’s now intent to do the same with an all-electric sibling.


Walmart Invests in GM’s Electric Self-Driving Vehicle Company

Patrick Kulp, AdWeek

Walmart is betting on self-driving delivery with an investment in GM’s electric autonomous car company Cruise.

Electricity, Utilities and Infrastructure

‘A Failure of Texas-Size Proportions’—State Struggles to Overhaul Its Power Market

Katherine Blunt and Russell Gold, The Wall Street Journal

Two months after blackouts paralyzed Texas, most of the people who participate in the state’s 19-year-old electricity market, including producers, sellers and traders, share a similar view. The freeze wasn’t a one-off event. The state’s power market needs to change.


Big Utilities Pan Texas Push to Curb Renewables Following Freeze

Josh Saul, Bloomberg

Three of the biggest power companies in the U.S. told Texas lawmakers that proposed new laws would load unfair costs onto wind and solar farms and chill investment in the state.


The Dallas Fed confirms climate-proofing the electrical grid is well worth the cost

Tim McDonnell, Quartz

Texans are still paying for the blackouts caused by a winter storm in February that knocked out power for millions. Last week, electricity prices in the state spiked again as a cold front passed through while half of the state’s power plants remain offline for maintenance.


Duke, Dominion, other utility executives lay out critical steps to achieve decarbonization targets

Jason Plautz, Utility Dive

As utilities meet aggressive federal and state decarbonization targets, it will be incumbent on them to communicate and educate customers, executives from major U.S. utilities said at the BNEF Summit on Wednesday.

Environment, Land and Resources

Brazil demand for U.S. to pay upfront stalls deal to save Amazon forest

Jake Spring, Reuters

The United States and Brazil are at an impasse on a deal to stop destruction of the Amazon rainforest, which has surged under right-wing President Jair Bolsonaro, two people familiar with the matter told Reuters.


The Battle for the Soul of Montana

Cassidy Randall, Rolling Stone

A copper mine threatens the iconic Smith River. It will bring jobs and the copper needed for a renewable-energy future, but is it worth the risk to one of the last pristine waterways?


Rising from the ashes, Alaska’s forests come back stronger

Nathanael Johnson, Grist

Back in 2004, when wildfires in Alaska burned an area the size of Massachusetts, Michelle Mack wondered just how much carbon had permanently moved from the landscape into the atmosphere.


New York Reaches Deal on Decommissioning Indian Point Nuclear Plant

Josh Saul, Bloomberg

New York Attorney General Letitia James reached a provisional agreement with Holtec International Corp. on the retirement and cleanup of Entergy Corp.’s Indian Point nuclear plant upstate.

Opinions, Editorials and Perspectives

To save the planet, focus on corporate-tax free riders

Chris Giles, Financial Times

Multinationals and climate change have a common problem and a solution is available.


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