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On his way out the door, FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler told Republicans not to take away rules that are working and tols his allies to"stay vigilant" against such efforts.

The speech in a nutshell:

  • Net neutrality rules are critical to artificial intelligence, virtual reality, cloud-based technologies and the Internet of Things.
  • "No company using the internet is safe" if the rules treating broadband providers as so-called common carriers are unraveled.
  • Investment in web-based services is up, as are providers' revenue and stock prices; "So, where's the fire?"

The writing on the wall: The incoming Republican majority on the commission are widely expected to quickly start the process of reversing the rules, particularly the expansion of FCC oversight over broadband providers that comes with Title II. Congressional Republicans are gearing up to reverse Title II as well, and could try to limit FCC oversight powers more generally.

If you're a wonk: Overturning the net neutrality rules won't happen overnight. A federal court upheld the FCC's authority to adopt and enforce the net neutrality rules, meaning Republicans "will have a high hurdle to vault to prove to the same court why it's 2016 decision was wrong," Wheeler said.

While the FCC would need to go through a long process to roll back the rules, Congress could have an easier path with legislation. Rep. Greg Walden and Sen. John Thune, the committee leaders with jurisdiction over the FCC, are still strategizing. Meanwhile, new FCC leadership could simply decline to enforce the rules.

Go deeper

"Atmospheric river" to whiplash Northern California from drought to flood

A map depicting 24-hour preciptation forecast (inches) ending Monday at 5a.m. local time. Photo: NOAA

A series of powerful "atmospheric river" storms are set dump historic amounts of rainfall across parts of drought-stricken California and the Pacific Northwest from this weekend, forecasters warn.

Why it matters: A strong atmospheric river, packing large amounts of moisture, is predicted to whiplash Northern California from drought to flood.

10,000 trees near giant sequoia groves to be removed after fires

A firefighter looks up at a giant sequoia tree after fire burned through the Sequoia National Forest near California Hot Springs, California, on Sept. 23. Photo: Patrick T. Fallon/AFP via Getty Images

"Upwards of" 10,000 trees near giant sequoia groves have been "weakened by drought, disease, age, and/or fire" and must be removed in the wake of California's wildfires, the Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks announced.

Why it matters: The damage to these trees, considered "national treasures," and work to remove them means a nearby key highway must remain closed to visitors as they have "the potential to strike people, cars, other structures, or create barriers to emergency response services," per a statement from the national parks.

Obama stumps for McAuliffe, urges Virginians not "to go back to the chaos"

Photo: Win McNamee/Getty Images

Former President Barack Obama framed a Nov. 2 gubernatorial race as a bellwether for the Democratic Party and the country, telling a crowd at a campaign event for Terry McAuliffe on Saturday that "I believe you, right here in Virginia, are going to show the rest of the country and the world that we're not going to indulge in our worst instincts."

Why it matters: With just over a week to go before Election Day in the Commonwealth, McAuliffe is bringing out the big guns. The 44th president appeared on the campus of Virginia Commonwealth University to urge supporters to get to the polls.