Sign up for our daily briefing

Make your busy days simpler with Axios AM/PM. Catch up on what's new and why it matters in just 5 minutes.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Catch up on the day's biggest business stories

Subscribe to Axios Closer for insights into the day’s business news and trends and why they matter

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Stay on top of the latest market trends

Subscribe to Axios Markets for the latest market trends and economic insights. Sign up for free.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Sports news worthy of your time

Binge on the stats and stories that drive the sports world with Axios Sports. Sign up for free.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Tech news worthy of your time

Get our smart take on technology from the Valley and D.C. with Axios Login. Sign up for free.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Get the inside stories

Get an insider's guide to the new White House with Axios Sneak Peek. Sign up for free.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Catch up on coronavirus stories and special reports, curated by Mike Allen everyday

Catch up on coronavirus stories and special reports, curated by Mike Allen everyday

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Denver news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Denver

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Des Moines news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Des Moines

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Twin Cities news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Twin Cities

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Tampa Bay news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Tampa Bay

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Charlotte news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Charlotte

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Nashville news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with the Axios Nashville newsletter.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Columbus news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with the Axios Columbus newsletter.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Dallas news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with the Axios Dallas newsletter.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Sign up for Axios NW Arkansas

Stay up-to-date on the most important and interesting stories affecting NW Arkansas, authored by local reporters

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

As the debate over fuel-economy standards escalates, automakers are desperately trying to forge a compromise between the goals of the Trump administration, which wants to weaken current rules, and California, which favors growing stringency.

The big picture: It's rare for companies to beg for regulation, but nothing could be worse for the auto industry than a split market, where some states have stricter rules than others. A drawn-out court battle would be just as bad, creating regulatory uncertainty.

  • A predictable 50-state solution would let them focus on other concerns, like a slowing global economy, trade disputes, U.S. labor negotiations and new mobility initiatives.
  • On Thursday, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce's Global Energy Institute called for a nationwide compromise.

The intrigue: While pushing for a solution, carmakers are tiptoeing around political land mines, fearful of angering President Trump, who has already lashed out on Twitter.

  • Some automakers would rather watch from the sidelines, especially because Trump is still weighing big tariffs on auto imports that could wreak havoc on their business, according to multiple industry sources.

Yes, but: Consumers are the wild card. They have shown little interest in hybrids or electric vehicles to date. Tougher fuel economy standards won't reduce greenhouse gas emissions unless people choose to buy cleaner vehicles.

  • "Regulation forces everyone to jump into the pool," says IHS Markit analyst Devin Lindsay. "Right now, if you commit to a certain amount of electrification and your competitor does not, and consumers are still choosing internal combustion engines, you will lose business."

Where it stands: The Trump administration is planning to freeze annual emissions standards starting in 2020, rather than letting them grow stricter as envisioned under Obama-era rules that almost everyone — even California — now agrees are not achievable.

  • The EPA, as part of that plan, would seek to strip California's special permission under the Clean Air Act to set its own emissions standards, which 13 states and the District of Columbia follow.
  • Sensing a showdown, 4 automakers — Ford, Volkswagen, Honda and BMW —last month signed a voluntary agreement with California that set standards in between Obama's lofty targets and Trump's 2020-level freeze.
  • The California deal would increase greenhouse gas standards 3.7% a year (compared to Obama's 5% targets) for 2022-2026, with as much as 1% of that coming from credit allowances for plug-in hybrids, EVs and other advanced technologies. Trump's plan would eliminate the use of credits — a sore point for automakers.

The context: With smaller, turbocharged engines, lighter body materials and other fuel-efficient technologies, automakers have been improving fuel economy and reducing CO2 tailpipe emissions by about 2% per year, according to the EPA.

  • Adding more hybrids and electric vehicles to the mix should increase the rate of improvement.

But, but, but: Trump argues that if fuel efficient technologies are too expensive, consumers won't trade in their older cars and will miss out on the life-saving benefits of new safety features like automatic emergency braking.

  • In fact, safety ranks much higher than fuel economy on shoppers' lists of considerations, according to virtually every consumer survey.

What to watch: Although industry forces are lining up against the president's policy proposal, Trump's ire against California could be stronger. If so, the fight will no doubt wind up in court — exactly what automakers fear.

Go deeper: Emissions credits are like gold for automakers

Go deeper

Updated 8 hours ago - World

U.S. airstrike kills senior al-Qaeda leader in Syria, DOD says

A displacement camp near the village of Qah in Syria's northwestern Idlib province. Photo: Ahmad Al-Atrash/AFP via Getty Images

A U.S. airstrike in northwest Syria on Friday killed senior al-Qaeda leader Abdul Hamid al-Matar, U.S. Central Command said in a statement.

Why it matters: Syria serves as a "safe haven" for the extremist group to plan external operations, according to U.S. Army Maj. John Rigsbee.

Updated 13 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Giuliani associate Lev Parnas convicted of campaign finance crimes

Lev Parnas, a former associate of then-President Donald Trump’s personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani. Photo: Stefani Reynolds/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Florida businessman Lev Parnas was convicted Friday on charges of conspiracy to make foreign contributions to political campaigns, according to multiple outlets.

Why it matters: Prosecutors said Parnas, then an associate of former President Donald Trump's personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani, funneled over $150,000 from a Russian businessman into U.S. campaigns as part of an effort to land licenses in the U.S.'s legal cannabis industry.

Supreme Court agrees to hear challenges to Texas abortion law

Photo: Saul Loeb/AFP via Getty Images

The Supreme Court on Friday agreed to hear two cases challenging Texas' abortion law, which bans the procedure as soon as six weeks into pregnancy, but left the law in place in the meantime.

Why it matters: The court is moving extraordinarily fast on the Texas cases, compressing into just a few days a process that normally takes months. And that schedule means the court will take up Texas' ban a month before it hears another major abortion case — a challenge to Mississippi's own 2018 ban on abortions after 15 weeks.