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Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Environmental Protection Agency administrator Andrew Wheeler will announce today his plans to review — and likely make more stringent — air pollution standards for heavy-duty trucks.

Why it matters: This is the first time the EPA under President Trump is looking to significantly tighten — not loosen — air pollution regulations. Most of EPA's focus for the last nearly two years has been to roll back environmental rules issued by then-President Barack Obama.

Driving the news: Wheeler will announce his intent to tighten regulations limiting nitrogen oxide emissions from big trucks. Nitrogen oxide is a pollutant that contributes to smog and poor air quality. The current standards haven't been reviewed since 2001. Today's news is not a formal rule-making step, and EPA officials say the proposal isn’t expected until early 2020, with a final by the end of that year — right after the next presidential campaign.

Yes, but: Wheeler and Bill Wehrum, the EPA's assistant administrator for air and radiation, said they don’t yet have a specific target in mind for the new standards and may be able to cut pollution without increasing the standard itself.

  • "One thing we know is these types of vehicles can be made cleaner, lower emitting," Wehrum said. He went on to say that the rules could be changed in a way that lowers emissions without actually lowering the standard. He added that the agency would "definitely look to see if the numbers need to come down."

One level deeper: This is an example of industry wanting the EPA to update a standard when they have an administration friendlier to their position than, say, an EPA under President Hillary Clinton might have been.

  • Wehrum said he’s met with many industry groups and companies, saying, "What we have consistently heard, is they think it’s time for an update."
  • State air agencies had asked Obama's EPA to lower the standard, and the agency said it would in late 2016, right after Trump's victory.

The big picture: Expect this rule to be the exception, not the new norm, of an agency still primarily focused on rolling back the aggressive regulatory agenda of the last president.

Go deeper:

Go deeper

Salesforce rolls the dice on Slack

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Salesforce's likely acquisition of workplace messaging service Slack — not yet a done deal but widely anticipated to be announced Tuesday afternoon — represents a big gamble for everyone involved.

For Slack, challenged by competition from Microsoft, the bet is that a deeper-pocketed owner like Salesforce, with wide experience selling into large companies, will help the bottom line.

FBI stats show border cities are among the safest

Data: FBI, Kansas Bureau of Investigation; Note: This table includes the eight largest communities on the U.S.-Mexico border and eight other U.S. cities similar in population size and demographics; Chart: Naema Ahmed/Axios

U.S. communities along the Mexico border are among the safest in America, with some border cities holding crime rates well below the national average, FBI statistics show.

Why it matters: The latest crime data collected by the FBI from 2019 contradicts the narrative by President Trump and others that the U.S.-Mexico border is a "lawless" region suffering from violence and mayhem.

Miriam Kramer, author of Space
2 hours ago - Science

The rise of military space powers

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Nations around the world are shoring up their defensive and offensive capabilities in space — for today's wars and tomorrow's.

Why it matters: Using space as a warfighting domain opens up new avenues for technologically advanced nations to dominate their enemies. But it can also make those countries more vulnerable to attack in novel ways.