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Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

The fate of California's aggressive moves to wring carbon emissions out of transportation could depend heavily on the election and the shape of the Supreme Court.

Why it matters: California is the country's largest auto market and transportation is the country's largest source of CO2.

  • Gov. Gavin Newsom told state regulators Wednesday to craft rules that curb sales of new gasoline-powered passenger vehicles over time, reaching a phaseout in 2035.
  • He also ordered tougher rules to greatly boost sales and use of zer0-emissions trucks and buses over the next 25 years.
  • The Trump administration came out swinging against the plan, calling it anti-consumer.

The state of play: The plan, if it survives, would join the list of the world's most ambitious moves to curb vehicle emissions by favoring electric and hydrogen-powered models.

  • In 2019, fully electric and plug-in hybrid models were well under 10% of California's passenger car sales, per multiple reports.

The intrigue: The plan's fate is bound up in the ongoing battle between California and the White House.

  • The Trump administration is seeking to curtail the state's leeway to set its own tailpipe rules (which a number of other states may adopt).
  • Its decision last year to revoke California's special Clean Air Act waiver is the subject of continuing litigation.

What we're watching: The election and the fight to replace the late Ruth Bader Ginsburg on the Supreme Court.

  • If Trump's upcoming nominee is confirmed, it would give conservative justices a powerful 6-3 majority on the high court.
  • Rapidan Energy Group, in a new note, said that split and a second Trump term would greatly imperil Newsom's plan.
  • "[T]he 6-3 conservative-led Supreme Court is more likely to uphold the Trump administration’s termination of CA’s waiver, eliminating its ability to enforce its [zero emissions vehicle] program," it said.

Yes, but: Per Rapidan, if Biden wins he will "reinstate the CA waiver and take it off the Supreme Court’s docket before it gets there."

  • "With the waiver secure, we would expect other states that have locked their ZEV targets to CA’s to set similar 100%-by-2035 mandates," Rapidan notes.

Go deeper

Ben Geman, author of Generate
Jan 22, 2021 - Politics & Policy

Yellen says Biden is "fully supportive" of carbon pricing

Photo: Alex Wong/Getty Images

Janet Yellen, President Biden's nominee to run the Treasury Department, has made clear to senators that her boss supports carbon pricing, but how that backing translates to policy is unknown.

Driving the news: "I am fully supportive of effective carbon pricing and I know that the President is as well," Yellen said in written answers to Senate Finance Committee members' questions published Thursday.

Jan 22, 2021 - Economy & Business

What Biden's EV push could mean for jobs

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

President Biden's swift effort to re-establish stricter fuel efficiency mandates, along with his broader push toward vehicle electrification, is as much about creating new jobs as it is protecting the environment.

Why it matters: The U.S. lags far behind the rest of the world in electric vehicle adoption. Catching up will require big investments in EV production — including battery cell manufacturing and mining of raw materials — to avoid dependence on imports and foreign supply chains.

Updated 13 mins ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

  1. Health: Most vulnerable Americans aren't getting enough vaccine information — Fauci says Trump administration's lack of facts on COVID "very likely" cost lives.
  2. Education: Schools face an uphill battle to reopen during the pandemic.
  3. Vaccine: Florida requiring proof of residency to get vaccine — CDC extends interval between vaccine doses for exceptional cases.
  4. World: Hong Kong puts tens of thousands on lockdown as cases surge — Pfizer to supply 40 million vaccine doses to lower-income countries — Brazil begins distributing AstraZeneca vaccine.
  5. Sports: 2021 Tokyo Olympics hang in the balance.
  6. 🎧 Podcast: Carbon Health's CEO on unsticking the vaccine bottleneck.

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