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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

Updated 2 hours ago - Health

The next big bottleneck in the global vaccination effort

Illustration: Rae Cook/Axios

The world still needs more coronavirus vaccines, but an additional bottleneck has emerged in many low-income countries: They need help getting shots in arms.

Why it matters: Increasing vaccination rates across the world is both a humanitarian necessity and the best way to prevent dangerous new variants from emerging, but it increasingly requires complex problem-solving.

Updated 2 hours ago - Health

COVID-19 Omicron variant cases identified in Europe, U.K.

People wearing masks walk in London on Nov. 25. Photo: Li Ying/Xinhua via Getty Images

Health officials in the United Kingdom, Italy and Germany announced on Saturday that they've detected the first known cases of the new COVID-19 Omicron variant.

Why it matters: The discoveries come as the world scrambles to respond to concerns over the new variant, discovered in South Africa earlier this week.

Black Friday in-store shopping up from 2020 but trails pre-pandemic levels

Shoppers carry their purchases during Black Friday shopping at Fashion Outlets of Chicago in Rosemont of Greater Chicago Area, Illinois on Nov. 26, 2021. Photo: Joel Lerner/Xinhua via Getty Images

More shoppers flocked to stores on Black Friday this year compared to last, but online shopping was lower than expected, according to data from Friday.

Driving the news: Online shopping was on the lower end of what was expected, largely because people had been ringing up their shopping carts earlier in the year in an effort to skirt potential supply chain issues, according to the Adobe Digital Economy Index.