Overnight Energy: Trump hopes for bigger oil cuts from historic deal | What's in the OPEC agreement | Experts see link between coronavirus, pollution

Overnight Energy: Trump hopes for bigger oil cuts from historic deal | What's in the OPEC agreement | Experts see link between coronavirus, pollution
© Getty Images

HAPPY MONDAY! Welcome to Overnight Energy, The Hill's roundup of the latest energy and environment news. Please send tips and comments to Rebecca Beitsch at rbeitsch@thehill.com. Follow her on Twitter: @rebeccabeitsch. Reach Rachel Frazin at rfrazin@thehill.com or follow her on Twitter: @RachelFrazin.

CLICK HERE to subscribe to our newsletter.



THE BIG STORY FROM THE WEEKEND: OPEC, Russia and other oil-producing countries, collectively known as OPEC+, have reached a tentative deal to cut oil output by 9.7 million barrels a day due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Talks between the countries had hit a last-minute hurdle last week when Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador appeared reluctant to cut his country's production levels. But Mexico's energy secretary confirmed Sunday that a deal had been reached.

President TrumpDonald TrumpBiden to hold virtual bilateral meeting with Mexican president More than 300 charged in connection to Capitol riot Trump Jr.: There are 'plenty' of GOP incumbents who should be challenged MORE also confirmed Sunday that a deal had been reached.

The details...

The agreement falls just below the initial proposal of 10 million barrels cut per day, with the U.S., Brazil and Canada contributing another 3.7 million barrels, Bloomberg reported. 

Prices had fallen 40 percent since March in response to an impasse between Saudi Arabia and Russia on a potential emergency plan to address the pandemic's effect on oil market supplies, which in turn prompted a price war between the two nations.

But, Trump wants more...


Trump on Monday suggested the historic deal he helped broker between major oil producing nations will lead to further production cuts worldwide.

"Having been involved in the negotiations, to put it mildly, the number that OPEC+ is looking to cut is 20 Million Barrels a day, not the 10 Million that is generally being reported. If anything near this happens, and the World gets back to business from the Covid 19," he tweeted Monday morning.

The White House declined to provide additional context for Trump's tweet.

Experts say the 9.7 million barrel a day cut won't be enough to offset the 30 percent decline in prices, though market forces are likely to drive production even lower.

While the finalized deal leaves little hope of an official 20 million barrel a day reduction like the one Trump referenced in his tweet, other nations outside the oil-producing cartel have said their production totals will drop, meaning global output could decline beyond what was outlined in Sunday's deal.

"The historic agreement that we saw over the weekend, from OPEC and OPEC+ is roughly 10 million barrels. But that is, in fact, only half of the story," Energy Secretary Dan Brouillette told Fox Business on Monday morning.

"There are over 100 countries that produce oil all around the world, and what we'll see is production declining over the next few months as the world deals with this COVID-19 pandemic. So, when you add up all of the production cuts around the world, we're going to much closer to 20 million barrels per day coming off the market."

An analysis by IHS Markit found that global production could decline by as much as 14 million barrels a day as the U.S., Canada and other countries cut production in response to prices that fell from $53 a barrel in February to a low of $22 a barrel in March.

Within the U.S., oil production is expected to decline by half a million barrels of oil a day, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, a figure that could grow to 700,000 next year.

But even the 10 million barrel per day drop is a massive one -- twice the size of the deal cut in the 2008-2009 financial crisis.

Read more about the deal here and read about what President Trump is hoping for here


NEW CORONAVIRUS WORRIES: Advocates and Democratic lawmakers are raising concerns over new research that suggests environmental conditions could exacerbate the effects of the coronavirus on low-income and minority communities.

A recent Harvard study found that people who live in areas with more exposure to air pollution are more likely to die from the pandemic, while other research shows that black and Latino communities people are disproportionately affected by the disease.


"In public health, it's often said that your ZIP code is more indicative of your health outcomes than your genetic code," Lubna Ahmed, the director of environmental health at WE ACT for Environmental Justice, told The Hill.

What do we know about pollution?

Polluting industries are frequently located near low-income and minority communities. For example, an assessment published by the American Public Health Association in 2018 showed that nonwhite and low-income communities are harder hit by pollution.

Authors of the more recent Harvard study on the coronavirus said their results "suggest that long-term exposure to air pollution increases vulnerability to experiencing the most severe COVID-19 outcomes."

That study added to a growing body of research on the overall health risks to communities exposed to high pollution levels, neighborhoods that are often occupied by people of color and low-income residents.

Ahmed pointed out that those groups often face worse outdoor air quality -- caused by pollution from cars and emissions-producing facilities -- and indoor air quality related to mold and poor ventilation in low-income housing.

"Anybody who's been impacted by pollution is in danger of infection by COVID-19 because they face this elevated risk of having underlying conditions," she said. 


As an example, she pointed to Manhattan's bus depots on the upper part of the island, where a higher percentage of the population is made up of people of color. Her group has charged that these bus storage centers are responsible for toxic emissions.

Greater exposure to air pollution has been linked to respiratory conditions such as asthma, which can increase risks of serious illness or death from the virus.

"We see in these big cities higher rates of minority communities suffering from death from COVID-19," said Rep. Donald McEachinAston (Donale) Donald McEachinLawmakers commemorate one-year anniversary of Arbery's killing Lobbying world Lawmakers share New Year's messages: 'Cheers to brighter days ahead' MORE (D-Va.).

He said those residents are "already having adverse health conditions" because of the pollution they're exposed to, "and then you add COVID-19 to it and you have a recipe for disaster."

And some say water access could also present issues...

It's not just pollution, said environmental justice activist Theresa Landrum.

She noted that a lack of access to water threatens to worsen health conditions for people in low-income communities hit by the coronavirus.


"Many people here in the Detroit area still don't have water," Landrum said, noting that many have said the "first line of defense" for the virus is to "wash your hands," which is difficult without water.

The new study linking environmental conditions to impacts of the coronavirus come as more demographic data sheds light on the spread of the disease.

In Louisiana, 70 percent of those who have died were black, despite the African American community accounting for just 32 percent of the state's population. In New York City, the virus has been about twice as deadly for blacks and Latinos as for white people.

For decades, advocates have called for action at the state, local and federal level to tackle the effects of environmental issues on marginalized communities. 

Read more about the concerns being raised here.


THAT STAT: U.S. greenhouse gas emissions increased by about 3 percent in 2018, according to a new report from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

The increase follows declines in greenhouse gas emissions in recent years. For example, emissions fell by about half a percent in 2017 and by nearly 3 percent in 2016. 

The last time greenhouse gas emissions increased was 2014. 

Despite the increase, emissions are still down about 10 percent from a recent high in 2007. 

Read more about the EPA's finding here.


COMBS OUT: Susan Combs, the Department of the Interior's assistant secretary for policy, management and budget, will leave the administration at the end of the month.

"Susan Combs has served @Interior and the American people with dedication and distinction. We are in her debt. She led critical efforts modernizing and reorganizing our operations," Interior Secretary David Bernhardt tweeted

"I appreciate her need to head back home to Texas, and she will be sorely missed."

Combs, a former Texas Comptroller and state legislator, joined the administration in 2017 and also previously served as acting assistant secretary for fish, wildlife and parks. She wasn't confirmed in her latest role until June of last year. 

Combs was viewed by environmental groups as being particularly opposed to endangered species protections and had compared the listings to "incoming Scud missiles." 

"Susan Combs never met an endangered species that she didn't want to push farther down extinction's path," Stephanie Kurose, endangered species policy specialist at the Center for Biological Diversity, said on a statement on Combs departure. 

"Her confirmation was a disaster from the start. With her departure, America's animals and plants are safer."



Virginia passes landmark clean energy legislation, Gizmodo reports

As EPA eases enforcement, Marylanders fear for the Chesapeake Bay, Maryland Matters reports

Reuters reports on a U.S. tribe's uphill battle against climate change

Wildlife is reclaiming Yosemite National Park: 'The bear population has quadrupled,' The Los Angeles Times reports

Coronavirus pandemic visibly causes pollution levels to drop in South Florida, WSVN reports


ICYMI: News from Monday and over the weekend...

US greenhouse gas emissions increased in 2018, EPA says

Trump hopes for bigger oil cuts stemming from historic deal

OPEC, allies agree to cut oil output by record amount

Experts see worrisome link between coronavirus, pollution



Will the OPEC agreement work and, if so, how long will it last? Simon Henderson, the director of the Bernstein Program on Gulf and Energy Policy at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, tackles those questions here.