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Illustration: Lazaro Gamio/Axios

EPA is making its opening moves against California's plan to phase out sales of new gasoline-powered cars by 2035 — the latest front in the battle between the White House and the state over climate policy.

Driving the news: Via The Wall Street Journal, EPA boss Andrew Wheeler sent California Gov. Gavin Newsom a letter attacking the plan and arguing it would require EPA approval.

The letter Monday says there are "serious questions" about the plan's legality and that it may require a waiver from EPA, per Reuters' report on it.

Why it matters: California is the nation's largest auto market. Newsom's plan last week is the most aggressive U.S. move to curb carbon emissions from transportation and push electric vehicles.

  • Wheeler's letter underscores the stakes of the ongoing litigation between EPA and California over cars, as well as the outcome of the election, and even the Supreme Court makeup.
  • Last year the Trump administration revoked the state's special authority under the Clean Air Act to set its own tailpipe emissions rules that a number of other states may adopt.

Yes, but: The fight over California's plan is in its early stages. Newsom's executive order last week is only a first step. State regulators' completion of final rules to actually implement it is likely years away.

The intrigue: It's a legal fight, but also a PR battle, with Wheeler's letter taking aim at California's recent rolling blackouts.

  • The states' power woes raise the question of "how you expect to run an electric car fleet that will come with significant increases in electricity demand, when you can’t even keep the lights on today," it states.
  • Newsom spokesman Jesse Melgar, in a statement to several outlets, said the Trump administration is trying to "drive this country off a climate cliff."
  • “We aren’t going to back down from protecting our kids’ health and the air they breathe," he said.

Go deeper

Ben Geman, author of Generate
Jul 2, 2020 - Energy & Environment

Why going electric makes sense for ride-hailing

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Deploying electric vehicles instead of gasoline-powered models for services like Uber and Lyft provides outsized climate benefits compared to emissions cuts from electric vehicles for only personal use, per a peer-reviewed study in Nature Energy.

Why it matters: The analysis, based on California data, follows explosive growth in ride-hailing in recent years — and evidence that it's cannibalizing more climate-friendly mass transit.

Dec 4, 2020 - Economy & Business

Clean trucks are paving the road to the electric vehicle era

Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

The electric vehicle revolution is underway, led by the un-sexiest of plug-in models: the commercial truck.

Why it matters: Growing demand for cleaner trucks means 2021 will be a pivotal year for electric vehicles — just not the kind you might have expected.

Caitlin Owens, author of Vitals
1 hour ago - Health

Who benefits from Biden's move to reopen ACA enrollment

Photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

Nearly 15 million Americans who are currently uninsured are eligible for coverage on the Affordable Care Act marketplaces, and more than half of them would qualify for subsidies, according to a new Kaiser Family Foundation brief.

Why it matters: President Biden is expected to announce today that he'll be reopening the marketplaces for a special enrollment period from Feb. 15 to May 15, but getting a significant number of people to sign up for coverage will likely require targeted outreach.