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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

NYT: Khashoggi's killers had paramilitary training in U.S.

A vigil for journalist Jamal Khashoggi outside the Saudi Arabia consulate in Istanbul, following his killing in 2018 in Turkey. Photo: Chris McGrath/Getty Images

Several Saudis who took part in the killing of Washington Post journalist Jamal Khashoggi had paramilitary training in the U.S. under a State Department contract a year before his 2018 death, the New York Times reported Tuesday.

Why it matters: While there's no evidence the department knew that Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman sanctioned Saudi officials to detain, kidnap and torture dissidents in 2017, the approval of such training underscores how "intensely intertwined" the U.S. has become with a nation known for human rights abuses, per the NYT.

U.S. attorney finalist trashes Labor secretary

Rachael Rollins and Marty Walsh. Photos: Jessica Rinaldi/The Boston Globe via Getty Images (Rollins); Tom Williams/CQ-Roll Call Inc. via Getty Images (Walsh)

A finalist for U.S. attorney in Boston is publicly trashing the city's former mayor — Labor Secretary Marty Walsh.

Why it matters: Rachael Rollins’ approach is perpetuating scrutiny of a troubled Cabinet secretary and fellow Democrat — and hints at the independence she may exhibit if tapped for top federal prosecutor for the eastern half of Massachusetts.

Parties pounce on China as midterm issue

Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

Democrats and Republicans in purple states are already leaning into U.S. competition with China as a key issue in the fight to control the Senate in 2022.

Why it matters: American voters hold increasingly negative feelings toward the Chinese government, particularly around bilateral economic relations and following the nation’s handling of the COVID-19 outbreak.