Aug 30, 2019

Corporate heavyweights split with Trump on energy regulatory rollbacks

Illustration: Rebecca Zisser/Axios

For the first time yesterday, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce publicly split with the White House over its plan to freeze Obama-era vehicle emissions and mileage rules.

Why it matters: While K Street is directionally inclined toward deregulation, there can be colliding interests below the surface. And that's certainly the case when it comes to the oil and auto industries.

  • It came the same day that Shell, BP and ExxonMobil issued statements opposing EPA's new draft rule to roll back regulation of the potent greenhouse gas methane from oil-and-gas development.
  • The supermajors' statements were a contrast to lobbying groups representing independent oil-and-gas companies, which cheered the EPA plan.

Where it stands: The Chamber, in a letter to U.S. and California regulators, urged them to strike a deal that enables continued increases in standards yet weakens the Obama-era targets.

  • The Chamber says that if the White House and California can't reach a deal to maintain a single set of rules, the result will be uncertainty, job losses, and delayed spending on safety and emissions tech.
  • In an accompanying report, they argue that Obama's rules for increasing standards through the mid-2020s are too much, too fast — but President Trump's plan is "misguided and insufficient." It's a stance that echoes major automakers' posture.

The big picture: The disputes show how the administration's moves to unwind Obama-era climate policies are too much for some segments of these industries, notably big players who...

  • Face intense public and investor pressure on global warming.
  • See a competitive edge if environmental regulations are maintained or, as some oil majors want in the case of methane, even expanded.
  • In the automakers' case, fear the uncertainty that would stem from a messy court battle, and loathe the idea of a bifurcated U.S. market.

The intrigue: Let's be clear — oil majors are not Greenpeace. Instead, maintaining regulations gives them a competitive advantage thanks to their huge financial resources.

  • And while they're free to continue cracking down on methane even in the absence of regulation, the rollback creates other problems.
  • As Bloomberg's Jennifer Dlouhy points out, global giants like Shell and BP have "warned the administration’s retreat on methane threatens to undermine the sales pitch for natural gas as a source of electricity that burns cleaner than coal."

Go deeper: Big Auto's rupture with Trump

Go deeper

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of 7 p.m. ET: 5,383,582 — Total deaths: 344,077 — Total recoveries — 2,158,031Map.
  2. U.S.: Total confirmed cases as of 7 p.m. ET: 1,640,972 — Total deaths: 97,679 — Total recoveries: 366,736 — Total tested: 14,163,195Map.
  3. World: White House announces travel restrictions on Brazil, coronavirus hotspot in Southern Hemisphere Over 100 coronavirus cases in Germany tied to single day of church services — Boris Johnson backs top aide amid reports that he broke U.K. lockdown while exhibiting symptoms.
  4. Public health: Officials are urging Americans to wear masks headed into Memorial Day weekend Report finds "little evidence" coronavirus under control in most statesHurricanes, wildfires, the flu could strain COVID-19 response
  5. Economy: White House economic adviser Kevin Hassett says it's possible the unemployment rate could still be in double digits by November's election — Public employees brace for layoffs.
  6. Federal government: Trump attacks a Columbia University study that suggests earlier lockdown could have saved 36,000 American lives.
  7. What should I do? Hydroxychloroquine questions answeredTraveling, asthma, dishes, disinfectants and being contagiousMasks, lending books and self-isolatingExercise, laundry, what counts as soap — Pets, moving and personal healthAnswers about the virus from Axios expertsWhat to know about social distancingHow to minimize your risk.
  8. Other resources: CDC on how to avoid the virus, what to do if you get it, the right mask to wear.

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Updated 21 mins ago - Politics & Policy

Federal judge strikes down Florida law requiring felons to pay fines before voting

Gov. Ron DeSantis. Photo: oe Raedle/Getty Images

A federal judge on Sunday ruled that a Florida law requiring convicted felons to pay all court fines and fees before registering to vote is unconstitutional.

Why it matters: The ruling, which will likely be appealed by state Republicans, would clear the way for hundreds of thousands of ex-felons in Florida to register to vote ahead of November's election.

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Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro with Trump, March 19, 2019. Photo: Jim Lo Scalzo-Pool via Getty Images

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Why it matters: Brazil has reported nearly 350,000 confirmed cases of the coronavirus — the second-most in the world behind the U.S. — and has emerged as a Southern Hemisphere hotspot as other heavily affected countries in Asia and Europe have managed to get their outbreaks under control.