The high-stakes battle between President Trump and California over auto mileage and carbon emissions rules is getting even messier.

Driving the news: GM, Fiat Chrysler, Toyota and others announced they are joining the Trump administration's side in litigation over its move to block California from imposing emissions rules — and by proxy mileage requirements — that are tougher than federal standards.

The other side: Four other big automakers — Ford, VW, Honda and BMW — did not join the intervention announced Monday. Last summer, those four reached a deal with California on toughening standards through the mid-2020s.

Why it matters: The stark split among giant automakers signals how the powerful industry is struggling to navigate through one of the thorniest regulatory fights in years — and one being fought over a pillar of the Obama-era climate agenda.

  • The Transportation Department and EPA last year proposed freezing Obama-era standards in place (although the EPA has hinted that the final version of the plan to weaken the Obama rules could still require slight increases in stringency).

Where it stands: The Trump administration last month said it's yanking California's waiver under the Clean Air Act to impose its own vehicle emissions rules, which 13 other states follow.

What's happening: The trade group Global Automakers announced the intervention Monday, but it also includes players outside that group including GM. So it's occurring under the auspices of a group called the "Coalition for Sustainable Automotive Regulation."

  • "The decision to intervene in the lawsuit is about how the standard should be applied, not what the standard should be," John Bozzella, CEO of Global Automakers, said in a statement.
  • "The certainty of one national program, with reasonable, achievable standards, is the surest way to reduce emissions in the timeliest manner," he said.

The intrigue: Honda is a member of Global Automakers but declined to join the intervention in the litigation.

  • "Honda is not a participant in this litigation, and it is not contributing any funds supporting our trade association's activity in this area," the company said in a statement to Axios.
  • "We have been very clear on wanting to avoid lengthy and costly litigation on this issue, which will result in a great deal of regulatory uncertainty."

What they're saying: Sen. Tom Carper, the top Democrat on the Senate's environment panel, attacked the move by GM, Toyota and others to join the case on the Trump administration's side.

  • "By aligning themselves with this administration’s reckless and illegal proposal, these companies are actively challenging the rights of states to set their own emissions standards and tackle the climate crisis," he said in a statement.

Go deeper:

Go deeper

21 mins ago - Podcasts

Rural America has its own coronavirus problem

It's often easier to socially distance in rural America, but it can simultaneously be more challenging to get medical care.

Axios Re:Cap digs into the pandemic's urban-rural divide with microbiologist Amber Schmidtke, who has found that coronavirus-related morbidity is higher in many of Georgia's rural counties than in Atlanta.

Updated 48 mins ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of 3:30 p.m. ET: 12,373,722 — Total deaths: 556,863 — Total recoveries — 6,794,982Map.
  2. U.S.: Total confirmed cases as of 3:30 p.m. ET: 3,156,234 — Total deaths: 133,746 — Total recoveries: 969,111 — Total tested: 38,032,966Map.
  3. Public health: The U.S.'s new default strategy: herd immunity — 23 states and D.C. are mandating face coverings.
  4. ✈️ Travel: Delta CEO says Trump administration should issue mask mandate for air travelAirlines say air quality, cleanliness lower risk.

Biden and Trump point fingers over "buy American" proposals

Joe Biden at a campaign event in Wilmington, DE. Photo: Alex Wong/Getty Images

President Trump and Joe Biden are going back and forth over the former vice president's "buy American" economic proposal, which Trump claims Biden "plagiarized" from him.

Why it matters: Biden is directly challenging Trump and his "America First" agenda with the release of his latest plan, focused on economic recovery and re-investing in American manufacturing in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic.