The battle between the Trump administration and California over vehicle carbon emissions and mileage is getting hotter — and yesterday brought fresh evidence that it's squarely on the radar of Capitol Hill Democrats too.
Where it stands: EPA is imminently expected to revoke California's waiver under the Clean Air Act that enables the state to set CO2 emissions rules that exceed federal standards, per Bloomberg and other outlets.
- Reports initially suggested the move would come today, but the Washington Post reported last night that it has been delayed at least a day.
- EPA did not respond to an Axios inquiry yesterday.
Why it matters: California wants to keep toughening the rules — which by proxy means tougher mileage mandates — in a way that's almost as strict as the national Obama-era standards they were following.
- But the White House is moving ahead with plans to freeze the Obama administration's federal emissions and mileage rules instead of allowing them to keep tightening.
- California is certain to battle the effort in court once it's finalized.
The big picture: California is the nation's largest auto market and roughly a dozen other states plan to follow California's emissions standards. This all has the auto industry fearful of a split national market.
Quick take: The expected EPA move could snuff out any hope automakers might have of avoiding a bitter legal fight between the administration and California that ensures ongoing uncertainty about standards — one where they're caught in the middle.
The bottom line: "This will be the biggest fight in environmental law since the Clean Power Plan. Maybe bigger," Nathan Richardson of the University of South Carolina School of Law, said via Twitter.
The intrigue: The political landscape could shift quickly if a Democrat wins the White House, but that's hardly a guarantee of smooth sailing for the industry either.
- That's because several leading Democratic 2020 hopefuls want to go beyond former President Obama's rules that automakers called unworkable.