Nov 19, 2019

The climate war over cars intensifies

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

The high-stakes fight over vehicle emissions and mileage rules is getting more intense and drawing in new combatants.

Driving the news, part 1: California Gov. Gavin Newsom said the state government would only buy cars for their fleets from automakers that reached a deal with the state on increasing emissions standards.

  • Ford, VW, Honda and BMW struck a deal with the state last summer that bucks the White House effort to roll back Obama-era standards for vehicles built through the mid-2020s.
  • "Carmakers that have chosen to be on the wrong side of history will be on the losing end of California’s buying power," Newsom said in a statement on the policy first reported Friday by the site CalMatters.
  • That means ending purchases from GM, Fiat Chrysler, Toyota and others siding with the administration in litigation over federal efforts to curb California's power to set rules that roughly a dozen other states follow.
  • The important numbers: Per Reuters, California bought nearly $59 million in vehicles from GM in 2016-2018 and nearly $56 million from Fiat Chrysler in the same period.
  • Quick take: This is increasingly a game of hardball. Remember the Justice Department recently opened an antitrust inquiry into the four companies that reached the deal with California.

Driving the news, part 2: Electric vehicle makers Tesla and Rivian are joining the fray.

  • They're members of the National Coalition for Advanced Transportation — a group that also includes several power and EV charging companies — that has joined litigation on the matter.
  • That group filed a motion Friday to intervene in cases filed by California and the Environmental Defense Fund challenging a Transportation Department finding that its purview over fuel economy preempts state tailpipe CO2 rules.
  • The group supports maintaining California's standards and zero-emissions vehicles program, and the motion lays out the parties' interests — including Tesla's ability to keep earning valuable compliance credits under the current rules.
  • Bloomberg Environment has more.

Where it stands: Those lawsuits, by the way, are two of a growing number in the administration tussle with California. On Friday, California and a suite of other states filed suit against EPA for yanking the state's Clean Air Act waiver to set standards that go beyond federal rules.

Why it matters: It's one of the most intense and consequential regulatory battles of the Trump era.

  • Transportation is the nation's largest carbon emissions source. And new Energy Department data shows those emissions rose again last year.
  • Meanwhile, automakers want a single set of national rules as they make billion-dollar bets on their future fleets. But the powerful industry has splintered on how to get there and what the standards should be.

Go deeper: The bumpy transition toward electric vehicles

Go deeper

The wreckage of summer

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

We usually think of Memorial Day as the start of the summer, with all of the fun and relaxation that goes with it — but this one is just going to remind us of all of the plans that have been ruined by the coronavirus.

Why it matters: If you thought it was stressful to be locked down during the spring, just wait until everyone realizes that all the traditional summer activities we've been looking forward to are largely off-limits this year.

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of 3 a.m. ET: 5,410,228 — Total deaths: 345,105 — Total recoveries — 2,169,005Map.
  2. U.S.: Total confirmed cases as of 3 a.m. ET: 1,643,499 — Total deaths: 97,722 — Total recoveries: 366,736 — Total tested: 14,163,915Map.
  3. World: White House announces travel restrictions on Brazil, coronavirus hotspot in Southern Hemisphere Over 100 coronavirus cases in Germany tied to single day of church services — Boris Johnson backs top aide amid reports that he broke U.K. lockdown while exhibiting symptoms.
  4. Public health: Officials are urging Americans to wear masks headed into Memorial Day weekend Report finds "little evidence" coronavirus under control in most statesHurricanes, wildfires, the flu could strain COVID-19 response
  5. Economy: White House economic adviser Kevin Hassett says it's possible the unemployment rate could still be in double digits by November's election — Public employees brace for layoffs.
  6. Federal government: Trump attacks a Columbia University study that suggests earlier lockdown could have saved 36,000 American lives.
  7. What should I do? Hydroxychloroquine questions answeredTraveling, asthma, dishes, disinfectants and being contagiousMasks, lending books and self-isolatingExercise, laundry, what counts as soap — Pets, moving and personal healthAnswers about the virus from Axios expertsWhat to know about social distancingHow to minimize your risk.
  8. Other resources: CDC on how to avoid the virus, what to do if you get it, the right mask to wear.

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Updated 4 hours ago - Politics & Policy

U.S. coronavirus updates

Data: The Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins; Map: Andrew Witherspoon/Axios. This graphic includes "probable deaths" that New York City began reporting on April 14.

The CDC is warning of potentially "aggressive rodent behavior" amid a rise in reports of rat activity in several areas, as the animals search further for food while Americans stay home more during the coronavirus pandemic.

By the numbers: More than 97,700 people have died from COVID-19 and over 1.6 million have tested positive in the U.S. Over 366,700 Americans have recovered and more than 14.1 million tests have been conducted.