There won't be a newsletter next week. We're off for the holiday.
Cancel your Thanksgiving plans, they say. Well, joke's on the CDC because I never had any.
Seriously, though, what a gloomy holiday season.
Almost half as many people will travel for Thanksgiving this year, according to GasBuddy — even though prices at the pump will be at a 4-year low.
That's bad news for oil and the companies that sell it. But markets are still reaping rewards from positive vaccine news. The S&P 500 energy index was up more than 16% as of Friday morning, compared to last month.
"Vaccine news have in a way replaced demand woes and forecasts in the oil market," Rystad Energy's Bjornar Tonhaugen wrote in a note this morning.
Anyway, I do love Thanksgiving and I will find a way to consume some tofurky next week. In the meantime, let's get to this week's top stories.
Biden's secret weapon to combat carbon emissions — with or without Senate control
I love topics that are neither sexy nor easy to explain. So, naturally, I've clung to news about fuel efficiency standards.
What are they? Essentially, these standards set a minimum mpg (miles per gallon) for the average new car in an automaker's fleet. If you sell more hybrids and electric vehicles, you'll have a higher average mpg.
Fun fact! These standards were originally designed to lower the nation's dependence on oil in the wake of the OPEC embargo, and the ensuing crisis, of the 1970s.
That could cut into oil demand by 500,000 barrels per day, according to Rystad Energy.
How will it impact automakers? There will be an even greater incentive to sell electric cars, and auto giants that sell a lot of cars in the US could be forced to ramp up electrification.
Ford is among the companies to watch.
The company's largest market is in North America and it trailed other major automakers in EV sales, as of 2018. It was also among the companies that called on the Trump administration to water down the standards back in 2017.
But: Most automakers aren't as focused on the US market. They also likely won't have a problem meeting Obama-era fuel standards, John Gartner, an automotive expert at the Center for Sustainable Energy, told me this morning, because "the momentum is towards greater electrification" already.
In other news: Elon Musk might finally get the tax on carbon emissions he's wanted for years when Joe Biden takes office, BI's Matt DeBord reports.
The battle over drilling in the Arctic Refuge continues. Still. Do oil companies care?
If you feel like you've been reading about the fight over oil in Alaska's Arctic National Wildlife Refuge for decades, it's because you have. It's literally been going on since 1980! That's when part of the refuge was designated for oil development.
What's new: In August, the Trump administration finalized plans to greenlight a large chunk of the refuge for oil and gas drilling. This week it moved to sell leases before Trump's term is up.
The stakes: ANWR is the largest remaining swath of wilderness in the nation. It's also home to what is believed to be a ton of oil.
Is the issue moot? Perhaps. For one, president-elect Joe Biden may be able to reject the leases. Moves to drill will also likely face legal hurdles, the New York Times reports.