Feb 8, 2020 - Politics & Policy

DOJ has dropped antitrust probe into four major automakers

Drivers in Los Angeles in September 2019. Photo: Robyn Beck/AFP via Getty Images

The Justice Department has dropped its antitrust inquiry into four major automakers — Ford, VW, Honda and BMW — that struck a deal with California to boost emissions standards in defiance of White House plans to relax existing rules, the New York Times reported Friday and Axios later confirmed.

The big picture, via Axios' Amy Harder: This is a victory for California in a war against the Trump administration on multiple legal and policy fronts. Another one we're watching is how the administration's lawsuit against California's cornerstone climate policy shakes out.

Details: California and the auto companies' efforts to tighten carbon emissions standards could improve with the DOJ's decision to drop its probe, the Times reports. BMW and Ford confirmed to Axios that the DOJ had dropped its antitrust inquiry.

  • The DOJ opened an investigation into the automakers to discern whether they violated antitrust laws by working together to reach a deal with California on emissions standards.

Where it stands: The Trump administration is moving to substantially weaken Obama-era carbon emissions and mileage rules for model years 2021-2026.

  • The administration had initially proposed freezing the standards.
  • The final rule will reportedly include some increases, but less than the Obama-era standards and what California had envisioned in its preliminary deal with the four automakers.

What to watch, via the Times: "The closure may mark something of a détente in the political battle between the White House and California."

Go deeper: Justice Dept. probes carmakers in California emissions deal

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Global CO2 emissions were flat in 2019

Reproduced from IEA; Chart: Axios Visuals

An IEA analysis released Monday found that energy-related CO2 emissions were flat last year at 33.3 gigatonnes.

Why it matters: Scientific analyses show that steep cuts — not just a plateau — are needed to meet the temperature goals of the Paris climate agreement.

Judge approves T-Mobile-Sprint merger

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

A federal judge allowed the merger of T-Mobile and Sprint to move forward in a Tuesday decision, ruling against a coalition of state attorneys general who fought against the deal.

Why it matters: The deal, announced back in April 2018, reduces the number of national carriers from four to three, but creates a much larger rival to AT&T and Verizon, and was seen as vital for Sprint, which has continued to lose market share during the deal's long approval process.

Go deeperArrowUpdated Feb 11, 2020 - Economy & Business

Delta aims to become first "carbon neutral" airline

Photo: Nicolas Economou/NurPhoto via Getty Images

Delta Airlines is spending $1 billion over the next decade to essentially cancel out all of its future greenhouse gas emissions beginning March 1, the company announced Friday.

The big picture: Delta is the world’s biggest airline by revenue, and this news is the latest in a rapidly growing trend of corporations announcing climate-change goals in response to public and investor pressure.