Sep 24, 2019

Trump administration threatens California with highway funding cuts

Andrew Wheeler. Photo: Alastair Pike/AFP/Getty Images

The Environmental Protection Agency has sent the California Air Resources Board a letter threatening to cut federal highway funding because of air pollution issues — claiming that the state has the "worst air quality" in the U.S.

Why it matters: The letter, first reported by the Sacramento Bee, from EPA administrator Andrew Wheeler declaring that California has failed to "carry out its most basic tasks under the Clean Air Act" marks the latest in a series of battles between the Trump administration and the liberal state.

  • The New York Times notes that while California upset Trump by introducing strict standards aimed at tackling climate change pollution from vehicles as the president tried to implement green policy rollbacks, "Wheeler’s new letter to the state offers a twist on the narrative."

Driving the news: Trump warned while visiting California last week that the EPA would revoke its waiver under the Clean Air Act that enables the state to set CO2 emissions rules that exceed federal standards.

  • California and 23 other states are suing the Trump administration for plans to revoke the state's authority to set stricter tailpipe emissions rules than the rest of the U.S.
  • A federal judge issued a preliminary injunction last Thursday blocking a new California law requiring presidential candidates to release their tax returns in order to appear on the primary ballot — something the president has steadfastly refused to do.
  • Trump threatened San Francisco last Wednesday that the EPA would issue a notice to the city declaring that it has committed environmental violations because of its homeless crisis.
  • The president said he's considering an "individual task force" to tackle the issue of homelessness in California.

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Judge temporarily blocks California presidential tax returns law

Photo: Nicholas Kamm/AFP/Getty Images

A federal judge issued an opinion Tuesday that a new California law requiring presidential candidates to release their tax returns in order to appear on primary ballots likely violates the U.S. Constitution, as he temporarily blocked it. But Californian officials told AP they would appeal the ruling.

The big picture: The move is a win for President Trump, who filed a lawsuit against California in August to block implementation of the law. U.S. District Judge Morrison C. England Jr. of the Eastern District of California indicated in a preliminary injunction he issued last month on the law that he would likely rule in favor of Trump, per Bloomberg.

Go deeperArrowOct 2, 2019

Trump officials likely to back off automotive regulations freeze

Photo: Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post/Getty Images

The Trump administration will likely endorse modest increases in vehicle mileage and emissions standards when it completes rules to weaken Obama-era mandates, multiple sources tell Axios.

Why it matters: The move, depending on the details, will likely force automakers into tough decisions about whether to endorse it.

Go deeperArrowOct 2, 2019

California initiative pushes an even stronger privacy law

Illustration: Lazaro Gamio/Axios

With impeachment hogging Congress' agenda, no national privacy law is likely to pre-empt California's stringent rules from going into effect next year — and activists in the state are already gearing up to put an even tougher initiative on the state's 2020 ballot.

Why it matters: California's rules often become de facto national standards. Home to Google and Facebook, this is where the tech industry's user-tracking, ad-targeting economy was born, but now it's also where efforts to tame the industry keep sprouting.

Go deeperArrowSep 30, 2019