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General Motors CEO Mary Barra speaks at GM headquarters June 12, 2018 in Detroit, MI. Photo: Bill Pugliano/Getty Images

General Motors will pull out of any legal efforts that seek to strip California of its right to set its own clean-air standards, GM CEO Mary Barra said in a letter Monday to environmental groups, per AP.

Driving the news: Barra said the company, which is developing a new battery chemistry that will reduce the costs of electric-vehicle, agrees with President-elect Joe Biden’s plan to expand the use of electric vehicles, AP reported.

Context: General Motors, Fiat Chrysler, Toyota and 10 smaller automakers formed a coalition last year to back the Trump administration in a lawsuit over whether California has the authority to set stricter emissions standards than those issued at the federal level.

  • BMW, Ford, Volkswagen, Volvo and Honda, meanwhile, backed California and endorsed stricter fuel economy and emissions standards than proposed by the Trump administration, which has significantly rolled back standards put in place by the Obama administration.
  • Toyota said on Monday that it was reconsidering its position, per AP.
  • EPA spokesperson James Hewitt told Axios, "It’s always interesting to see the changing positions of U.S. corporations."

What she's saying: “We believe the ambitious electrification goals of the President-elect, California, and General Motors are aligned, to address climate change by drastically reducing automobile emissions,” wrote Barra, per AP.

Environmental groups welcomed Barra's announcement and urged other automakers to follow GM's lead.

  • Mary Nichols, the head of California’s Air Resources Board, called GM’s announcement “good news,” and that “[she] was pleased to be in communication with Mary Barra again," per AP.
  • Dan Becker of the Center for Biological Diversity, who openly criticized GM for trying to stop stricter pollution regulations, told AP in an email that "[n]ow the other automakers must follow GM and withdraw support for Trump’s attack on clean cars."

Go deeper

Ben Geman, author of Generate
Jan 28, 2021 - Energy & Environment

GM plans to end sales of gasoline powered cars by 2035

GM CEO Mary Barra at the GM Orion Assembly Plant plant for electric and self-driving vehicles in Michigan. Photo: Bill Pugliano/Getty Images

General Motors is setting a worldwide target to end sales of gasoline and diesel powered cars, pickups and SUVs by 2035, the automaker said Thursday.

Why it matters: GM's plan marks one of the auto industry's most aggressive steps to transform their portfolio to electric models that currently represent a tiny fraction of overall sales.

Jan 29, 2021 - Podcasts

When investing goes viral

You've likely heard the headlines this week about the stock market mania around GameStop. But this isn't just about the stock market. It's a kind of populist uprising borne of the Internet.

  • Plus, what’s behind GM’s big electric vehicle announcement.
  • And, the new Wild West is in outer space.
Updated 6 hours ago - World

UK government: Kremlin has plan "to install pro-Russian leadership" in Ukraine

British Foreign Secretary Elizabeth Truss. Photo: Gints Ivuskans / AFP via Getty Images

The United Kingdom's Foreign Secretary on Saturday night said the government has "information that indicates the Russian Government is looking to install a pro-Russian leader in Kyiv as it considers whether to invade and occupy Ukraine."

Driving the news: U.S. National Security Council spokeswoman Emily Horne called the intelligence "deeply concerning" in a statement to Axios. The Biden administration has said Russia is actively manufacturing a pretext for invasion and warned that Putin could use joint military exercises in Belarus as cover to invade from the north.