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JUNE 14: 2022 Housing Market: Boom or Bust? Virtual Briefing Features 5 CEOs from Realtor® Groups Across the U.S.

–(BUSINESS WIRE)–Northern Virginia Association of Realtors®:

WHAT

Boom or bust! The residential housing market is grabbing headlines as it continues its 2022 explosive growth despite facing headwinds like mortgage interest rate hikes, low inventory, and record home prices. In this virtual briefing for journalists, five CEOs representing some of the largest Realtor® Associations in the U.S. from the National Association of Realtors® (NAR) Association Executives community come together to discuss the similarities and differences in their various residential real estate markets, where their market is today, and what they anticipate for the remainder of 2022 into 2023 – regionally and nationally.

The discussion will be led and moderated by Ryan McLaughlin, CEO, Northern Virginia Association of Realtors®, who is 2022 Chair of NAR’s Association Executives Committee. The AEC serves as a leadership resource for NAR’s more than 1,000 Realtor® associations by ensuring that there is knowledge and understanding of industry issues and concerns between the various Realtor® organizations across the nation.

In addition to McLaughlin, the panel discussion includes CEOs from Realtor® organizations in Charlotte, Denver, Las Vegas, and San Antonio. Each these regions have a unique story to tell and were recognized in NAR’s “Top 10 Outperforming Markets” or “Hidden Gems”, or have been the focus of attention for their extraordinarily fast home price growth or other regional factors.

WHEN

Tuesday, June 14, 12noon – 12:45 p.m. Eastern

WHERE

Virtual by Zoom

www.NVAR.com/PressBriefing

WHO

Moderator: Ryan McLaughlin, CEO, NVAR

Participants:

  • Anne Marie DeCatsye, CEO, Canopy Realtor® Association, Charlotte, NC
  • Nobu Hata, CEO, Denver Metro Association of Realtors®
  • Wendy DiVecchio, CEO, Las Vegas Realtors®
  • Gilbert Gonzalez, CEO, San Antonio Board of Realtors®

WHY

Headlines speculating about the housing market in 2022 and beyond are dominating news feeds. One outlet predicts a strong market, another says the bubble will burst in 2023, while still another says it’s a mixed bag. Join these five Realtor® CEOs, who have their finger on the pulse of residential real estate in their city, to learn first-hand how the housing market is faring in their cities today, and what they forecast for the rest of 2022 and into 2023.

HOW

Register for the event here www.NVAR.com/PressBriefing to receive a Zoom link. For questions, contact Shawn Flaherty at 703-554-3609. PLEASE NOTE: Only registered journalists will be permitted into the virtual briefing room.

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Supreme Court Leak Inquiry Exposes Gray Area of Press Protections

“The norms of confidentiality at the court, they’re not gentle or subtle,” said Allison Orr Larsen, a professor at William and Mary Law School who clerked for Justice David H. Souter. “They are strongly and repeatedly emphasized.”

As blunt and terrifying as those warnings may be, they are informal. So are the rules that apply to the justices themselves, who have been resistant to being bound by written procedures on most matters concerning their work.

“They don’t even have written ethics rules for the justices,” said Paul M. Smith, a law professor at Georgetown University who clerked for Justice Lewis F. Powell Jr. The leak, he said, and the focus on the lack of those standards after recent revelations about the political activities of Virginia Thomas, the wife of Justice Clarence Thomas, may put more pressure on the court to accept new restrictions on how it operates.

Other legal scholars, including some at the conservative Heritage Foundation, have pointed to a number of laws that could be used to prosecute the leaker and spur the kind of wide-ranging investigation that could entangle the press, court staff and even individual justices. One law that has been used against leakers, according to John Malcolm, a legal expert with the Heritage Foundation, broadly deals with theft, embezzlement and the conversion of “things of value” that belong to the government.

None are slam dunks. But First Amendment experts said they would not be surprised if one of these laws was tested in this case.

RonNell Andersen Jones, a professor at the University of Utah’s S.J. Quinney College of Law who clerked for Justice Sandra Day O’Connor, said that when she and a group of former clerks who text one another heard of the Politico article, their immediate reaction was that it had to be a hoax. A leak of this magnitude, they all understood, is strictly forbidden.

“What it means to be strictly forbidden is about to be tested,” Ms. Andersen Jones added.

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How Roe Shaped the World of Work for Women

When Barbara Schwartz looks back at her younger days working as a Broadway stagehand, she remembers the electricity of it: the harried dancers slipping into their costumes backstage, the props people shoving past with flashlights between their teeth.

She was able to throw herself into that high-pressure career, she said, because of a choice she made in 1976. She got an abortion at a clinic she found in the Yellow Pages. It was three years after the Roe v. Wade ruling established the constitutional right to an abortion; to Ms. Schwartz, the world seemed full of new professional opportunities for women. She got a credit card in her own name, became one of the first women to make it into the local stagehand union and joined the throngs backstage at shows including “Cats” and “Miss Saigon.”

Ms. Schwartz, 69, is now retired. She is spending her retirement years escorting women to the doors of an abortion clinic on the border of Virginia and Tennessee. She was drawn to this volunteer work, she said, because to her, the promise from her 20s has dimmed — the result of laws that have chipped away at abortion access, with a leaked draft Supreme Court ruling this past week revealing that Roe is likely to be overturned.

“This is my giant pay it forward,” Ms. Schwartz said.

That is how Ginny Jelatis, 67, thinks about it too. She was of high school senior age the year Roe v. Wade was decided; she began serving as a clinic escort after retiring from her work as a history professor in 2016.

43 percent in 1970 to 57.4 percent in 2019. Many different factors drove women into the work force in greater numbers in those years, but scholars argue that abortion access was an important one.

poll in 2021 found that 59 percent of Americans said they believed abortion should be legal in all or most cases, and 39 percent said it should be illegal in all or most cases. Recent Pew data indicates that women are slightly more likely than men to say abortion should be legal in all cases, and younger people, between the ages of 18 and 29, are far more likely than older adults to say abortion should be legal in some or all cases.

Justice Harry A. Blackmun, a modest Midwestern Republican and a defender of the right to abortion, wrote the majority opinion.

Recent research has tried to understand the role abortion access plays in women’s employment. Most notable is the Turnaway Study, conducted at the University of California, San Francisco. Researchers followed two groups of women — a group that wanted and got abortions, and another that wanted abortions and were unable to obtain them — for five years and found that those unable to get abortions had worse economic outcomes. Almost two-thirds of those who did not have an abortion they had sought out were living in poverty six months later, compared with 45 percent of those who got the procedure.

patchwork of state laws on abortion access, with 13 states set to ban abortion immediately or very quickly after the court’s ruling. There is likely a correlation between the regions of the country where it is most difficult to get an abortion, and those with the fewest child care and parental leave options, according to an analysis of research findings from the financial site WalletHub.

For older women who felt they were able to attain financial stability because of the decision to have an abortion, there is resonance in sharing their stories with the younger women they meet at clinics today.

“The older folks I work with can remember that dread of, ‘My God, what if it happens to me?’” said Ms. Deiermann, who spent most of her career working in reproductive health advocacy.

Many clinic volunteers, like Ms. Deiermann, remember when their classmates and friends got illegal abortions. Telling those stories feels more urgent than ever.

Karen Kelley, 67, a retired labor and delivery nurse in Idaho, who volunteers at an abortion clinic there, spent her childhood aligned with her Roman Catholic family’s anti-abortion views. Then she found herself pregnant in her early 20s, without an income to support a baby. Realizing that motherhood could “derail all her hopes,” she chose to terminate that pregnancy, about six years after Roe.

That’s a memory Ms. Kelley conveys to the women she escorts to the clinic’s steps. “If I’m asked, I’m always honest that I understand how they’re feeling because I had an abortion and they have every right to make the decision,” she said.

And some older women said that the position they’re in now — retired, with savings and stability — is something they trace back to Roe.

“It gave us a chance to decide to marry and have a family later,” said Eileen Ehlers, 74, a retired high school English teacher and a mother.

What Roe gave her, she said, is something she can now pour back into volunteering: “We have time.”

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York strips its duke, Prince Andrew, of ‘freedom of city’ honour, article with image

Prince Andrew, Duke of York, stands outside the Westminster Abbey after a service of thanksgiving for late Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, in London, Britain, March 29, 2022. REUTERS/Tom Nicholson/File Photo

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LONDON, April 27 (Reuters) – The northern English city of York on Wednesday stripped Britain’s Prince Andrew, who is the Duke of York, of the freedom of the city.

Local councillors voted en masse to rescind the honour bestowed on Andrew, Queen Elizabeth’s second son, in 1987.

Andrew, who has fallen from grace as a member of Britain’s royal family, in February settled a U.S. lawsuit by Virginia Giuffre accusing him of sexually abusing her when she was a teenager, potentially sparing him further embarrassment.

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“The honorary freedom of our great city is bestowed on those who represent the very best of York. It’s inappropriate for Prince Andrew to retain any connection to our city,” said Darryl Smalley, a York city councillor.

Andrew, 62, did not admit wrongdoing in agreeing to settle the civil lawsuit. He has not been accused of criminal wrongdoing.

Giuffre’s case had focused on Andrew’s friendship with the late Jeffrey Epstein, a financier and sex offender who Giuffre said had also sexually abused her. Epstein killed himself in a Manhattan jail in 2019 while awaiting trial.

Andrew has denied accusations that he forced Giuffre, who now lives in Australia, to have sex when aged 17 more than two decades ago at the London home of Epstein associate Ghislaine Maxwell, at Epstein’s mansion in Manhattan and Epstein’s private island in the U.S. Virgin Islands.

The royal family in January removed Andrew’s military titles and royal patronages and said he would no longer be known as “His Royal Highness”.

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Reporting by Andy Bruce
Editing by Gareth Jones

Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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Will President Biden Forgive Student Loan Debt?

Justin Nelson’s letter, one of the thousands that arrived at the White House this month, said he was proud to vote for President Biden back in 2020. Now he had a request: Would the president please honor a campaign promise and use the enclosed pen to wipe out thousands of dollars he owes in student loans?

The letter-writing campaign — #PensForBiden — is the latest attempt to sway Mr. Biden on a high-stakes dilemma as the midterm elections approach and much of his domestic agenda remains stalled: What to do about the $1.6 trillion that more than 45 million people owe the government?

So far, Mr. Biden has extended the pandemic pause on student loan payments four times, most recently until Aug. 31. Payments have now been on hold for more than two years, over two presidential administrations.

But all that time poses problems. Many of the issues that have long bedeviled the loan system have only grown more complicated during the pause, and receiving bills again will infuriate and frustrate millions of people who feel trapped by a broken system and crushing debt.

progressive wing of his Democratic Party. He backed the idea on the campaign trail in 2020. “I’m going to make sure that everybody in this generation gets $10,000 knocked off of their student debt as we try to get out of this God-awful pandemic,” he told an audience in Miami.

Senate Democrats lack the votes to help make good on that promise, leaving executive action as the only possible pathway. But close allies say some influential members of Mr. Biden’s team have been reluctant for him to do it — some because they disagree with the idea of forgiveness and some because they don’t believe he has the authority.

“He’s got lawyers telling him he shouldn’t,” said Representative James E. Clyburn of South Carolina, the third-ranking House Democrat and a key supporter of Mr. Biden. But Mr. Clyburn, the most senior Black lawmaker in Congress, said presidential actions had brought sweeping changes before, including Abraham Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation and Harry Truman’s order banning segregation in the military.

“If executive orders can free slaves and integrate the armed services, it can eliminate debt,” Mr. Clyburn said.

analysis released by the Federal Reserve Bank of New York last week. A separate study by the bank found that surveyed borrowers reported a 16 percent chance of quickly missing a payment if the moratorium ended.

Mr. Nelson, a 32-year-old bank operations associate in Minneapolis, said the pause had freed up $120 a month for home repairs and other expenses.

recent Morning Consult poll found that more than 60 percent of registered voters were in favor of some level of student debt cancellation. But despite Mr. Biden’s campaign promise, his advisers have been divided, three people with knowledge of the discussions said.

Some view debt cancellation as relief for critical constituencies, said the people, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak publicly. Others oppose it as bad policy or because they fear the economic effects of putting more money in consumers’ pockets when inflation is soaring.

But the pressure on Mr. Biden to act has only grown.

Senator Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, whose pledge to cancel up to $50,000 per borrower was a centerpiece of her 2020 presidential primary bid, and Senator Chuck Schumer of New York, the majority leader, led more than 90 congressional Democrats in sending Mr. Biden a letter last month asking him to “provide meaningful student debt cancellation.”

voting rights protections and Mr. Biden’s Build Back Better agenda, as reason for the president to take matters into his own hands.

The New Georgia Project, a group focusing on voter registration founded by the gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams, has cast debt relief as an action that would serve Mr. Biden’s pledge to put racial equity at the forefront of his presidency.

“Much of your administration’s legislative priorities have been stymied by obstructionist legislators,” the group wrote in a joint letter with the advocacy group the Debt Collective that was reviewed by The New York Times. “Student debt cancellation is a popular campaign promise that you, President Biden, have the executive power to deliver on your own.”

announcing the latest pause extension last month, Mr. Biden’s press secretary, Jen Psaki, said he “hasn’t ruled out” the idea.

But Mr. Biden’s power to act unilaterally remains an open legal question.

Last April, at Mr. Biden’s request, the Education Department’s acting general counsel wrote an analysis of the legality of canceling debt via executive action. The analysis has not been released; a version provided in response to public records requests was fully redacted.

Proponents of forgiveness say the education secretary has broad powers to modify or cancel debt, which both the Trump and Biden administrations have leaned on to carry out the payment freeze that started in March 2020.

Legal challenges would be likely, although who would have standing is unclear. A Virginia Law Review article this month argued that the answer might be no one: States, for example, have little say in the operation of a federal loan system.

scathing criticism from government auditors and watchdogs, with even basic functions sometimes breaking down.

Some problems are being addressed. The Biden administration has wiped out $17 billion in debt for 725,000 borrowers by expanding and streamlining forgiveness programs for public servants and those who were defrauded by their schools, among others. Last week, it offered millions of borrowers added credit toward forgiveness because of previous payment-counting problems.

But there’s much still to do. The Education Department was deluged by applicants after it expanded eligibility for millions of public servants. And settlement talks in a class-action suit by nearly 200,000 borrowers who say they were defrauded by their schools recently broke down, setting up a trial this summer.

will be restored to good standing.

Canceling debt could make addressing all this easier, advocates say. Forgiving $10,000 per borrower would wipe out the debts of 10 million or more people, according to different analyses, which would free up resources to deal with structural flaws, proponents argue.

“We’ve known for years that the system is broken,” said Sarah Sattelmeyer, a higher-education project director at New America, a think tank. “Having an opportunity, during this timeout, to start fixing some of those major issues feels like a place where the Education Department should be focusing its attention.”

Voters like Ashleigh A. Mosley will be watching. Ms. Mosley, 21, a political science major at Albany State University in Georgia, said she had been swayed to vote for Mr. Biden because of his support for debt cancellation.

Ms. Mosley, who also attended Alabama A&M University, has already borrowed $52,000 and expects her balance to grow to $100,000 by the time she graduates. The debt already hangs over her head.

“I don’t think I’m going to even have enough money to start a family or buy a house because of the loans,” she said. “It’s just not designed for us to win.”

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CoStar Group Appoints David Mele as President of LoopNet

WASHINGTON–(BUSINESS WIRE)–CoStar Group, Inc. (NASDAQ: CSGP) – a leading provider of online real estate marketplaces, information, and analytics in the commercial and residential property markets today proudly announced the appointment of David Mele as the new President of LoopNet.

LoopNet is the most heavily trafficked mobile and online commercial real estate marketplace, connecting tenants and investors to commercial real estate available for sale and lease. As President, Mele will be responsible for the overall business strategy, sales, product management, marketing and extending LoopNet’s success internationally.

“Over the past several years, LoopNet has grown into the largest commercial real estate marketplace in the world, and we’re excited to bring on David Mele to oversee the company during these times of staggering growth,” said Andrew Florance, Founder and Chief Executive Officer, CoStar Group. “With decades of experience, David has a proven track record of building and growing successful online marketplaces and we are confident that he will take LoopNet to the next level.”

David Mele joined CoStar Group in May 2021 as part of the Homes.com acquisition where he successfully served as President of Homes.com since 2014. As President, Mele played an integral part of the company’s acquisition by CoStar Group in May 2021.

Prior to joining Homes.com, David served as publisher of The Virginian-Pilot, the largest daily metro newspaper in Virginia, and president of Pilot Media, a diversified media company based in Norfolk, Virginia. He also served as general manager of Pilot Interactive, where he was responsible for online and digital operations including PilotOnline.com, HamptonRoads.com, online vertical marketplaces for homes, jobs, and autos, and a digital services division that delivered search engine marketing, social media and web development solutions. Mele began his career with Accenture, a global management consulting and technology services company, where he worked with a number of Fortune 100 companies on new product development and innovation.

About CoStar Group, Inc.

CoStar Group, Inc. (NASDAQ: CSGP) is a leading provider of online real estate marketplaces, information and analytics. Founded in 1987, CoStar conducts expansive, ongoing research to produce and maintain the largest and most comprehensive database of commercial real estate information. Our suite of online services enables clients to analyze, interpret and gain unmatched insight on commercial property values, market conditions and current availabilities. STR provides premium data benchmarking, analytics and marketplace insights for the global hospitality industry. Ten-X provides a leading platform for conducting commercial real estate online auctions and negotiated bids. LoopNet is the most heavily trafficked commercial real estate marketplace online. Apartments.com, ApartmentFinder.com, ForRent.com, ApartmentHomeLiving.com, Westside Rentals, AFTER55.com, CorporateHousing.com, ForRentUniversity.com and Apartamentos.com form the premier online apartment resource for renters seeking great apartment homes and provide property managers and owners a proven platform for marketing their properties. Homesnap is an industry-leading online and mobile software platform that provides user-friendly applications to optimize residential real estate agent workflow and reinforce the agent-client relationship. Homes.com offers real estate professionals advertising and marketing services for residential properties. Realla is the UK’s most comprehensive commercial property digital marketplace. BureauxLocaux is one of the largest specialized property portals for buying and leasing commercial real estate in France. CoStar Group’s websites attract tens of millions of unique monthly visitors. Headquartered in Washington, DC, CoStar Group maintains offices throughout the U.S., Europe, Canada and Asia. From time to time, we plan to utilize our corporate website, CoStarGroup.com, as a channel of distribution for material company information.

This news release includes “forward-looking statements” including, without limitation, statements regarding CoStar Group’s expectations, beliefs, intentions or strategies regarding the future. These statements are based upon current beliefs and are subject to many risks and uncertainties that could cause actual results to differ materially from these statements, including the risk that the Company’s expected growth will not be as and when expected. More information about potential factors that could cause results to differ materially from those anticipated in the forward-looking statements include, but are not limited to, those stated in CoStar Group’s filings from time to time with the Securities and Exchange Commission, including in CoStar’s Annual Report on Form 10-K for the year ended December 31, 2021, which is filed with the SEC, including in the “Risk Factors” sections of that filing, as well as CoStar’s other filings with the SEC available at the SEC’s website (www.sec.gov). All forward-looking statements are based on information available to CoStar Group on the date hereof, and CoStar Group assumes no obligation to update or revise any forward-looking statements, whether as a result of new information, future events or otherwise.

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Ukraine Live Updates: Biden Taps U.S. Oil Reserves as War Disrupts Supply

Under growing pressure to bring down high energy prices, President Biden announced on Thursday that the United States would release up to 180 million barrels of oil from a strategic reserve to counteract the economic impact of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

With midterm elections just months away, gasoline prices have risen nearly $1.50 a gallon over the last year, undercutting consumer confidence. And the cost of diesel, the fuel used by most farmers and shippers, has climbed even faster, threatening to push up already high inflation on all manner of goods and services.

“I know how much it hurts,” Mr. Biden said Thursday as he announced the plan. “As you’ve heard me say before, I grew up in a family like many of you where the price of a gallon gasoline went up, it was a discussion at the kitchen table.”

Mr. Biden has few tools to control commodity prices that are set on global markets, so he is turning to the Strategic Petroleum Reserve, ordering the largest release since that emergency stockpile was established in the early 1970s. But the move will most likely have a modest impact because it cannot make up for all the oil, diesel and other fuels that Russia used to sell to the world but is no longer able to.

“Our prices are rising because of Putin’s action,” Mr. Biden added, referring to President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia. “There isn’t enough supply. And the bottom line is if we want lower gas prices, we need to have more oil supply right now.”

Mr. Biden’s plan, to release one million barrels of oil a day for 180 days, would represent roughly 5 percent of American demand and 1 percent of global demand. To put that in context, Russian oil exports are down about three million barrels a day. The U.S. benchmark oil price fell about 6 percent on Thursday.

The administration’s announcement came as Russia conveyed mixed signals about its aims for the war in Ukraine, now in its sixth week. Despite Kremlin claims that it was withdrawing from the outskirts of Kyiv, the capital, fighting continued in that area on Thursday, and Western officials said they saw little evidence of a Russian pullback.

“Russia maintains pressure on Kyiv and other cities, so we can expect additional offensive actions, bringing even more suffering,” the NATO secretary general, Jens Stoltenberg, said at a news conference.

Russian officials also said they would allow a respite for greater humanitarian access to the devastated southeast port of Mariupol, once home to 400,000 people, which has come to symbolize Russia’s battlefield tactic of indiscriminate destruction. Previous agreements for pauses in fighting around Mariupol have repeatedly broken down.

Largely as a result of the ceaseless war, energy experts expect oil prices to stay high for a while without big interventions like the U.S. reserve release.

Reaction from the oil industry to Mr. Biden’s announcement was muted. The reserve has mostly been used to increase the supply of oil during wars, foreign threats to energy supplies or natural disasters. Smaller reserve releases by the Biden administration starting late last year have had little impact on the prices that drivers and businesses pay for fuel.

“It will lower the oil price a little and encourage more demand,” said Scott Sheffield, chief executive of Pioneer Natural Resources, a major Texas oil company. “But it is still a Band-Aid on a significant shortfall of supply.”

The American Petroleum Institute, which represents oil and gas companies, said Mr. Biden ought to encourage domestic oil production by reducing regulations. The reserve “was put in place to reduce the impact of significant supply chain disruptions,” said Mike Sommers, the group’s president, “and while today’s release may provide some short-term relief, it is far from a long-term solution to the economic pain Americans are feeling at the pump.”

After sinking to historically low levels during the early months of the coronavirus pandemic, oil prices have been climbing for the last year, reaching their highest levels in nearly a decade.

Oil exploration and production in the United States and elsewhere slid during the pandemic, and still has not quite recovered. American companies, under pressure from investors, have been cautious about spending too much money to drill new wells, lest prices fall again. Instead, many have been paying out larger dividends and buying back their stock.

While that calculation might make sense for individual businesses, it has caused political problems for Democrats who had hoped to reduce the use of fossil fuels to address climate change. Now, under attack from Republicans for high prices, Mr. Biden and Democrats are trying to get the oil industry to drill more.

Credit…Tannen Maury/EPA, via Shutterstock

Both sides of the political divide are eyeing the November congressional election, when inflation is expected to be a major issue.

Reacting to news of the release from the reserve, a spokesman for Representative Kevin McCarthy, the Republican leader in the House, accused the president of “attacks on American energy production in order to fulfill his campaign promise to ‘get rid of fossil fuels.’”

Mark Bednar, the spokesman, added: “As a result, the American people are paying the price, as gas is more than $4 per gallon, and we are more reliant on other countries for energy.”

But Senator Joe Manchin III, Democrat of West Virginia, welcomed the Biden announcement, saying it would “provide much-needed relief while also allowing for the simultaneous ramping up of domestic oil and gas production to backfill Russian energy resources.”

Aides to Mr. Biden are hoping to blunt Republican criticisms by taking actions to try to lower prices. In a statement about the oil release Thursday morning, the White House said that Mr. Biden was “committed to doing everything in his power to help American families who are paying more out of pocket as a result.”

They are also trying to pin some of the blame for high prices on oil companies, which the administration argues are not producing more energy to increase their profits. The administration plans to call on Congress to require companies to produce oil on more than 12 million acres of federal lands that are already permitted for extraction or pay fines, a proposal that will probably face an uphill climb.

Energy experts said the reserve release would pack more punch if other countries, like China, also sold oil from their stockpiles. The International Energy Agency, an organization of more than 30 countries, will meet Friday and may recommend further releases from national reserves.

Russian oil exports normally represent more than one of every 10 barrels the world consumes. The United States, Britain and Canada have stopped importing Russian oil, and many oil companies and shippers in Europe have voluntarily stopped buying Russia’s energy products. That has produced a deficit so far of about three million barrels a day.

The average price of regular gasoline in the United States is $4.23 a gallon, according to AAA, the motor club. That’s about the same as it was a week ago but up 62 cents a gallon in the last month.

Oil prices had dropped this week after peace talks between Russia and Ukraine showed the first signs of progress. Energy traders are also concerned that demand could fall as China, the world’s largest oil importer, imposes lockdowns in Shanghai and other places to deal with coronavirus outbreaks.

“The price effect is likely to be short term,” David Goldwyn, who was a senior State Department official in the Obama administration, said about Mr. Biden’s announcement. “But part of the benefit of this release is that it will provide a bridge to when new physical supply comes online in the second half of this year from the U.S., Canada, Brazil and other countries.”

Some environmentalists criticized the reserve release. “Putting more oil on the market is not the solution to our problem but the perpetuation of our problem,” said Mark Brownstein, a senior vice president at the Environmental Defense Fund.

But Meghan L. O’Sullivan, director of the Geopolitics of Energy Project at Harvard’s Kennedy School, said releasing reserves to ease shortages would not imperil the transition to clean energy. “What the last month has told us is that if there is no energy security today, the appetite for taking hard steps on the path of transition will evaporate,” she said.

The release is not without risk. Goldman Sachs analysts wrote in a research note that a large discharge could cause “congestion” on the Gulf Coast, keeping new oil production from fields in West Texas out of pipelines and storage tanks.

Mr. Biden’s move could also discourage Saudi Arabia and other producers from increasing supply to reduce prices. OPEC Plus, a group led by Saudi Arabia that includes Russia, on Thursday decided to maintain a policy of only modestly increasing supply.

Bob McNally, who was an energy adviser to President George W. Bush, said the release was “not big enough to offset the potential loss of Russian oil exports should the conflict and sanctions pressure continue to extend.”

The oil market tends to go in cycles, so the release may allow the government to sell high and, later, buy low, potentially earning billions of dollars for the Treasury. The government will use the money it makes from oil sales to refill the reserve, which in turn could help raise prices again.

While pushing up those prices, Jason Bordoff, founding director of Columbia University’s Center on Global Energy Policy and a former aide to President Barack Obama, said an eventual refill could also “send a signal to shale producers that may help encourage them to invest in more production, which may help with today’s potential shortages.”

The U.S. reserve contains nearly 600 million barrels, approximately a month of total American consumption, and it can release up to 4.4 million barrels a day. The stockpile was established after the 1973 energy crisis, when Saudi Arabia and other Arab producers proclaimed an oil embargo.

Megan Specia contributed reporting from Krakow, Poland, and Steven Erlanger from Brussels.

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Will War Make Europe’s Switch to Clean Energy Even Harder?

At the Siemens Gamesa factory in Aalborg, Denmark, where the next generation of offshore wind turbines is being built, workers are on their hands and knees inside a shallow, canoe-shaped pod that stretches the length of a football field. It is a mold used to produce one half of a single propeller blade. Guided by laser markings, the crew is lining the sides with panels of balsa wood.

The gargantuan blades offer a glimpse of the energy future that Europe is racing toward with sudden urgency. The invasion of Ukraine by Russia — the European Union’s largest supplier of natural gas and oil — has spurred governments to accelerate plans to reduce their dependence on climate-changing fossil fuels. Armed conflict has prompted policymaking pledges that the more distant threat of an uninhabitable planet has not.

Smoothly managing Europe’s energy switch was always going to be difficult. Now, as economies stagger back from the second year of the pandemic, Russia’s attack on Ukraine grinds on and energy prices soar, the painful trade-offs have crystallized like never before.

Moving investments away from oil, gas and coal to sustainable sources like wind and solar, limiting and taxing carbon emissions, and building a new energy infrastructure to transmit electricity are crucial to weaning Europe off fossil fuels. But they are all likely to raise costs during the transition, an extremely difficult pill for the public and politicians to swallow.

unwinding efforts to shut coal mines and stop drilling new oil and gas wells to replace Russian fuel and bring prices down.

proposed a carbon tax on imports from carbon-producing sectors like steel and cement.

And it has led the way in generating wind power, especially from ocean-based turbines. Siemens Gamesa Renewable Energy, for example, has been instrumental in planting rows of colossal whirligigs at sea that can generate enough green energy to light up cities.

Europe, too, is on the verge of investing billions in hydrogen, potentially the multipurpose clean fuel of the future, which might be generated by wind turbines.

halted approval of Nord Stream 2, an $11 billion gas pipeline under the Baltic Sea that directly links Russia to northeastern Germany.

As Ursula von der Leyen, the European Commission president, said when she announced a plan on March 8 to make Europe independent of Russian fossil fuels: “We simply cannot rely on a supplier who explicitly threatens us.” The proposal calls for member nations to reduce Russian natural gas imports by two-thirds by next winter and to end them altogether by 2027 — a very tall order.

This week, European Union leaders are again meeting to discuss the next phase of proposals, but deep divisions remain over how to manage the current price increases amid anxieties that Europe could face a double whammy of inflation and recession.

On Monday, United Nations Secretary General António Guterres warned that intense focus on quickly replacing Russian oil could mean that major economies “neglect or kneecap policies to cut fossil fuel use.”

price of palladium, used in automotive exhaust systems and mobile phones, has been soaring amid fears that Russia, the world’s largest exporter of the metal, could be cut off from global markets. The price of nickel, another key Russian export, has also been rising.

Mr. Rasmussen and other executives added that identifying suitable areas for wind turbines and obtaining permits required for construction take “far too long.” Challenges are based on worries that the vast arrays of turbines will interfere with fishing, obstruct naval exercises and blight views from summer houses.

To Kadri Simson, Europe’s commissioner for energy, renewable energy projects should be treated as an “overriding public interest,” and Europe should consider changing laws to facilitate them.

“We cannot talk about a renewables revolution if getting a permit for a wind farm takes seven years,” Ms. Simson said.

Still, environmental regulations and other rules relating to large infrastructure installations are usually the province of countries rather than European Union officials in Brussels.

And steadfast opposition from communities and industries invested in fossil fuels make it hard for political leaders to fast-track energy transition policies.

In Upper Silesia, Poland’s coal basin, bright yellow buses display signs that boast they run on 100 percent electric, courtesy of a grant from the European Union. But along the road, large billboards mounted before the invasion of Ukraine by state-owned utilities — erroneously — blame Brussels for 60 percent of the rise in energy prices.

Down in the Wujek coal mine, veterans worry if their jobs will last long enough for them to log the 25 years needed to retire with a lifelong pension. Closing mines not only threatens to devastate the economy, several miners said, but also a way of life built on generations of coal mining.

“Pushing through the climate policy forcefully may lead to a drastic decrease in the standard of living here,” said Mr. Kolorz at Solidarity’s headquarters in Katowice. “And when people do not have something to put on the plate, they can turn to extreme populism.”

Climate pressures are pushing at least some governments to consider steps they might not have before.

German officials have determined that it is too costly to keep the country’s last three remaining nuclear power generators online past the end of the year. But the quest for energy with lower emissions is leading to a revival of nuclear energy elsewhere.

Britain and France say they plan to invest in smaller nuclear reactors that can be produced in larger numbers to bring down costs.

Britain might even build a series of small nuclear fusion reactors, a promising but still unproven technology. Ian Chapman, chief executive of the U.K. Atomic Energy Authority, said every route to clean energy must be tried if there is to be any hope of reaching net zero emissions in three decades, the deadline for avoiding catastrophic climate change. “We’ve got to do everything we possibly can,” he said.

In the short term, much of what the European Union is proposing involves switching the source of fossil fuels, and, in particular, natural gas, from Russia to other suppliers like the United States, Qatar and Azerbaijan, and filling up storage facilities as a buffer. The risk is that Europe’s actions will further raise prices, which are already about five times higher than a year ago, in a market where supplies are short in part because companies are wary of investing in a fuel that the world ultimately wants to phase out.

Over the longer term, Europe and Britain seem likely to accelerate their world-leading rollout in renewable energy and other efforts to cut emissions despite the enormous costs and intense disruptions.

“The E.U. will almost certainly throw hundreds of billions of euros at this,” said Henning Gloystein, a director for energy and climate at Eurasia Group, a political risk firm. “Once the trains have left the station, they can’t be reversed.”

Melissa Eddy contributed reporting.

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Western businesses cut some Russia ties over Ukraine invasion, article with image

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The logo of Russia’s flagship airline Aeroflot is seen on an Airbus A320-200 in Colomiers near Toulouse, France, September 26, 2017. REUTERS/Regis Duvignau

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Feb 25 (Reuters) – Some Western companies severed their ties with Russia on Friday, and others studied whether and how to do so, as President Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine triggered sanctions and pressure to abandon some business dealings. read more

European sports and entertainment businesses were among the first to announce such moves.

Premier League club Manchester United (MANU.N) withdrew the sponsorship rights of Russian airline Aeroflot (AFLT.MM), Formula One canceled the 2022 Russian Grand Prix, and organizers of the Eurovision song contest said Russia would not be allowed to participate in this year’s final. read more

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The “inclusion of a Russian entry in this year’s (Eurovision) contest would bring the competition into disrepute,” the European Broadcasting Union (EBU) said in a statement.

Gadget maker Dell Technologies Inc (DELL.N) said it suspended sales in Ukraine and Russia and would closely monitor the situation to determine next steps. New U.S. rules on exports to Russia announced on Thursday covered computers, and Dell accounted for about 6% of computer shipments to Russia last quarter, according to researcher IDC.

U.S. carrier Delta Air Lines Inc (DAL.N) said, without providing a reason, that it had suspended its codesharing service with Aeroflot.

Alexandria, Virginia, marketing consultant Dan Sondhelm said companies were trying to balance the reputational risk of continuing to deal with Moscow with their economic interests and concerns about upsetting some of their investors.

“It will take some time for companies to make their decisions to act or do nothing,” Sondhelm said. “It doesn’t happen overnight.”

The United States on Thursday imposed sanctions on Russia that targeted five major Russian banks, including state-backed Sberbank and VTB, the country’s two largest lenders, as well as wealthy individuals, and announced new export control measures. read more

On Friday, European Union member states agreed to freeze European assets of Putin and his foreign minister, among other measures. read more

Some experts and attorneys said Western executives would seek to end commercial arrangements, even if they were not obliged to do so, to avoid public relations problems or the bureaucracy of trying to navigate sanctions in areas such as technology exports. read more

“What a lot of them will do is just drop any Russian customers. They will just say ‘we’re not going to deal with that,'” said William Reinsch, a trade expert at the Center for Strategic and International Studies and a former U.S. Commerce Department export official.

David Smith, partner at insurance broker McGill and Partners in London, said that even before the invasion and sanctions, two underwriters had told him they did not want to insure a shipping company operating in Russian waters on the grounds they did not want to facilitate business with Russia.

“People should be thinking more and more about the moral issue, it’s not just a box-ticking exercise,” Smith said.

Western consumer brands operating in the region could face backlash. For instance, several posters on Facebook responded with outrage after a verified account for McDonald’s Corp (MCD.N) posted that it closed restaurants in Ukraine, but did not address its Russia locations.

“The Russian occupiers, the military, and their children will continue to enjoy a variety of burgers. And my child is sitting in a bomb shelter with tears in his eyes,” one of the posters, identifying himself as Vitaliy Skalsky, told Reuters in Ukrainian in a Facebook message.

McDonald’s representatives in the United States and Ukraine did not respond to requests for comment.

‘FALLEN FOUL’ OF CORPORATE STANDARDS

Western banks and financial firms have been studying the practical implications of new sanctions, said several sources in the heavily regulated industries.

The rules prohibit direct dealings with sanctioned entities and “correspondent” banking relationships that enable Russian banks to make international payments via U.S. banks. But they are less clear on areas such as buying and selling Russian sovereign debt in secondary markets, said a senior source at a large European bank with U.S. operations.

Many details on how the sanctions will work need to be confirmed by the U.S. Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) and other international regulators, this source said. OFAC did not respond immediately to requests for comment.

The chief investment officer of one European asset manager said on condition of anonymity it was considering whether to sell sovereign and corporate debt it holds in Russia, much as it might sell the bonds of a company that failed to take action on an issue like climate change.

“Russian actions have fallen foul of the standard you would have at the corporate level,” the executive said.

But client interests might argue for a different approach, this person said. “At the other side of the transaction is our client, who might be losing if you’re selling it in a fire sale,” the executive said.

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Reporting by Ross Kerber in Boston
Additional reporting by Caroyln Cohn in London; Matt Scuffham, Hilary Russ, Danielle Kaye and David French in New York; Jeffrey Dastin in Palo Alto, Calif., and Paresh Dave in Oakland, Calif.
Eidting by Greg Roumeliotis and Matthew Lewis

Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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