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The intra-left flashpoints over climate and energy

Environmentalists are all psyched that Joe Biden beat Donald Trump, but tensions on the left could soon come to the surface as Biden starts implementing his energy agenda.

Why it matters: Democrats and the wider left are in the midst of a public reckoning with how progressive the party's stances and message should be.


  • It follows an election that handed Biden a sizable win, but Democrats have thus far failed to re-take the Senate (unless both Georgia runoffs go their way), while their House majority shrunk.

The big picture: "Biden is already caught up in the Democratic conflict over how far to go in combating climate change," The Washington Examiner reports.

Driving the news: Biden has a sprawling platform under his overall goal of reaching net-zero U.S. emissions by 2050, so here's just a few potential flashpoints I'll be watching...

  • Personnel: Activist groups like 350.org and Oil Change don't want Biden to choose anyone who has worked with or is even indirectly associated with fossil fuel interests to top roles. And it's an effort that goes well beyond just Cabinet secretaries.
  • “I think everyone is fixated at the Cabinet level for obvious reasons, but the folks below that are really important too,” said Julian Brave NoiseCat, a top strategist with the progressive think tank Data for Progress.
  • Oil-and-gas drilling: Biden's pledge to end permitting on federal lands is pretty sweeping and...pretty vague. So let's see how aggressively it's crafted in terms of timelines and so forth.
  • Congress: There's no chance for a sweeping climate bill unless Democrats take the Senate, but look for efforts to include clean energy-related investments in an economic recovery package. The shape of a potential compromise — especially around topics like support for carbon capture and nuclear power — is something to watch.
  • Congress, part II: If Democrats somehow win both Georgia runoffs and claim a small majority, that opens the first window for major climate legislation in a decade, with all kinds of interests to balance.
  • LNG exports: Will Biden's posture be supportive? Both the Obama and Trump administration's viewed liquefied natural gas exports as an important source of U.S. leverage in gas-reliant Europe, while the left opposes the sector. Axios' Amy Harder explored this tension in more detail here.

Rahm Emanuel floated for Transportation secretary

President-elect Biden is strongly considering Rahm Emanuel to run the Department of Transportation, weighing the former Chicago mayor’s experience on infrastructure spending against concerns from progressives over his policing record.

Why it matters: The DOT could effectively become the new Commerce Department, as infrastructure spending, smart cities construction and the rollout of drone-delivery programs take on increasing economic weight.

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Biden turns to experienced hands for White House economic team

Joe Biden plans to announce Cecilia Rouse and Brian Deese as part of his economic team and Neera Tanden to head the Office of Management and Budget, sources tell Axios.

Why it matters: These are experienced hands. Unveiling a diverse group of advisers also may draw attention away from a selection of Deese to run the National Economic Council. Some progressives have criticized his work at BlackRock, the world's largest asset management firm.

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Kushner to visit Saudi Arabia and Qatar seeking deal to end crisis

Jared Kushner will travel in the coming days to Saudi Arabia and Qatar in a last-ditch effort to resolve the dispute between the Gulf countries.

Why it matters: Fixing the rift between Saudi Arabia and Qatar would bring a sense of stability back to the Gulf and notch a last-minute achievement for Kushner and the Trump administration before Jan. 20.

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Wisconsin recount reaffirms Biden's victory in the state

The two recounts in Wisconsin requested by the Trump campaign were completed Sunday and confirmed that President-elect Joe Biden won the state, the Washington Post reports.

Driving the news: Biden won Wisconsin by more than 20,000 votes. Recounts in the state's most populous and liberal areas — Dane and Milwaukee counties — netted him an additional 87 votes.

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Michelle Lujan Grisham is Congressional Hispanics choice to lead Health and Human Services

Hispanic lawmakers are openly lobbying to have New Mexico Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham be named Health and Human Services secretary, according to a letter obtained by Axios.

Why it matters: These members are now following the example some Black lawmakers have used for weeks: trying to convince Joe Biden his political interests will be served by rewarding certain demographic groups with Cabinet picks.

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Vanderbilt kicker becomes first woman to play in Power 5 football

Vanderbilt senior Sarah Fuller became the first woman to play in a Power 5 football game yesterday "when she delivered the opening kickoff of the second half for Vanderbilt against Missouri," ESPN reports.

Details: "Fuller, a senior goalkeeper on Vanderbilt's SEC championship soccer team, sent the low kick to the 35-yard line where it was downed by Missouri," as the play was designed. Vandy lost, 41-0.

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Map: A look at world population density in 3D

This fascinating map is made by Alasdair Rae of Sheffield, England, a former professor of urban studies who is founder of Automatic Knowledge. It shows world population density in 3D.

Details: "No land is shownon the map, only the locations where people actually live. ... The higher the spike, the more people live in an area. Where there are no spikes, there are no people (e.g. you can clearly identify ... the Sahara Desert)."

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Biden's Day 1 challenges: The immigration reset

President-elect Biden has an aggressive Day One immigration agenda that relies heavily on executive actions to undo President Trump's crackdown.

Why it matters: It's not that easy. Trump issued more than 400 executive actions on immigration. Advocates are fired up. The Supreme Court could threaten the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, and experts warn there could be another surge at the border.

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