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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

Why migrants are fleeing their homes for the U.S.

Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios Photo: Herika Martinez /Getty Images 

Natural disasters in Central America, economic devastation, gang wars, political oppression, and a new administration are all driving the sharp rise in U.S.-Mexico border crossings — a budding crisis for President Biden.

Why it matters: Migration flows are complex and quickly politicized. Biden's policies are likely sending signals that are encouraging the surge — but that's only a small reason it's happening.

Cities' pandemic struggle to balance homelessness and public safety

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Addressing homelessness has taken on new urgency in cities across the country over the past year, as officials grapple with a growing unhoused population and the need to preserve public safety during the coronavirus pandemic.

Why it matters: It’s led to tension when cities move in to clear encampments — often for health and safety reasons — causing some to rethink the role of law enforcement when interacting with people experiencing homelessness.

Biden to sign voting rights order to mark "Bloody Sunday" anniversary

President Biden will sign an executive order today, on the 56th anniversary of "Bloody Sunday," meant to promote voting rights, according to an administration official.

Why it matters: The executive order comes as Democrats face an uphill battle to pass a sweeping election bill meant, in part, to combat a growing number of proposals introduced by Republicans at the state level that would restrict voter access.