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Biden plans to dramatically increase offshore wind energy development

The White House rolled out initiatives Monday aimed at jump-starting development of large offshore wind farms that together would power over 10 million homes.

Why it matters: The target of 30 gigawatts of generating capacity by 2030 would go well beyond the big projects already on the drawing boards.

  • The research firm BloombergNEF currently forecasts that the U.S. will have 19.64 gigawatts of offshore wind power capacity in 2030.
  • U.S. offshore wind is a massive resource. But it remains in its very early stages in the U.S. compared to Europe, with no commercial-scale projects yet in operation.

Some of the steps announced Monday:

  • Plans for more Interior Department offshore wind lease auctions, including as soon as later this year for a region off the New York and New Jersey coasts.
  • Launching a formal environmental study of a project that Danish wind giant Ørsted hopes to build off New Jersey, which is a step toward permitting the plan.
  • Using Transportation and Energy Department funding to spur development, such as inviting ports to apply for $230 million for infrastructure projects to support the sector.
  • New R&D and analytical efforts, including a data-sharing agreement between Ørsted and the Commerce Department's National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

The big picture: The efforts come as the Biden administration is looking to emphasize the jobs potential of its climate and renewable energy goals — and arguing they extend well beyond the coasts.

  • A White House summary of the efforts says developing U.S. coastal projects will "spawn new supply chains that stretch into America’s heartland," such as domestically produced steel.
  • Overall, the summary claims that meeting the development target would mean 44,000 workers with offshore wind jobs in 2030, and another 33,000 jobs in areas "supported" by that activity.

Between the lines: Huge energy companies like Equinor, Shell and BP, Portugal's EDP and others are already involved in various partnerships for U.S. projects.

  • Earlier in March, Interior completed its review of Vineyard Wind, which is proposed for construction off Massachusetts that's likely to be the first big U.S. project completed.
  • The 800 megawatt project is a joint venture between Copenhagen Infrastructure Partners and Avangrid Renewables, an arm of Spanish power giant Iberdrola.

"Nine minutes and 29 seconds": Prosecutors begin closing arguments in Chauvin trial

Steve Schleicher, an attorney for the prosecution in Derek Chauvin's trial, began closing arguments on Monday by describing in detail George Floyd's last moments — crying out for help and surrounded by strangers, as Chauvin pressed his knee into Floyd for nine minutes and 29 seconds.

Why it matters: The jury's verdict in Chauvin's murder trial, seen by advocates as one of the most crucial civil rights cases in decades, will reverberate across the country and have major implications in the fight for racial justice.

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European soccer goes to war over wealthy clubs' plans for exclusive "Super League"

Europe's biggest soccer clubs have established The Super League, a new midweek tournament that would compete with — and threaten the very existence of — the Champions League.

Why it matters: This new league, set to start in 2023, "would bring about the most significant restructuring of elite European soccer since the 1950s, and could herald the largest transfer of wealth to a small set of teams in modern sports history," writes NYT's Tariq Panja.

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81% of S&P 500 companies have reported a positive earnings surprise for Q1

First-quarter earnings so far have been very strong, outpacing even the rosy expectations from Wall Street and that's a trend that's expected to continue for all of 2021. S&P 500 companies are on pace for one of the best quarters of positive earnings surprises on record, according to FactSet.

Why it matters: The results show that not only has the earnings recession ended for U.S. companies, but firms are performing better than expected and the economy may be justifying all the hype.

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NASA's Mars helicopter takes flight as first aircraft piloted on another planet

NASA successfully piloted the Ingenuity Mars helicopter for its first experimental flight on Monday, briefly hopping the aircraft as NASA's Perseverance rover collected data.

Why it matters: Ingenuity's short flight marks the first time a human-built aircraft has flown on a world other than Earth, opening the door to new means of exploring planets far from our own.

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All U.S. adults now eligible for COVID-19 vaccine, meeting Biden's April 19 deadline

All 50 U.S. states, plus Washington, D.C. and Puerto Rico, have now made U.S. adults over the age of 16 eligible for COVID-19 vaccines, meeting President Biden's April 19 deadline.

Why it matters: The landmark speaks to the increased pace of the national vaccination campaign, but will increase pressure on the federal government, states and pharmaceutical companies to provide adequate vaccine supply and logistics.

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Minneapolis braces for a verdict in the Derek Chauvin trial

Minneapolis is waking up to images of an occupied city on Monday, as the city and the world await a verdict in the Derek Chauvin trial.

What it's like: Residents running errands, picking up dinner and heading to the dog park in recent days encountered heavily-armed National Guard troops stationed throughout the city.

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Russian authorities say jailed opposition leader Navalny has been transferred to hospital

Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny has been hospitalized, one day after his doctor warned that the jailed Putin critic "could die at any moment," Russia's prison service said Monday.

Why it matters: News that Navalny's condition had severely deteriorated on the third week of a hunger strike prompted outrage from his supporters and international demands for Russia to provide him with immediate medical treatment.

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The state worst hit by the pandemic

Data: Hamilton Place Strategies; Chart: Will Chase/Axios

When the coronavirus pandemic hit, the job facing governments was to save lives and save jobs. Very few states did well on both measures, while New York, almost uniquely, did particularly badly on both.

Why it matters: The jury is still out on whether there was a trade-off between the dual imperatives; a new analysis from Hamilton Place Strategies shows no clear correlation between the two.

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