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New York Attorney General Letitia James. Photo: Drew Angerer/Getty Images

A group of 29 states and local governments on Tuesday filed suit against the Trump administration's move to replace Obama-era climate rules for power plants with a more modest alternative.

Why it matters: The litigation, led by New York Attorney General Letitia James, sets the stage for a new federal court battle over the scope of regulators' authority and duty to regulate greenhouse gas emissions under the Clean Air Act.

  • It's a dispute that could affect how aggressively a future president can impose emissions-cutting rules on power plants, and perhaps other facilities like oil refineries.

The big picture: In June, the EPA announced final rules that require states to make coal-fired units more efficient over time, but the rules lack binding CO2-cutting targets.

  • Trump's rules replaced a wider 2015 regulation that sought to drive more sweeping power sector changes by enabling states to meet carbon-cutting mandates by moving to lower-emitting and zero-carbon sources.
  • That Obama-era mandate never took effect because it was stayed by the Supreme Court.

"My office, and this groundbreaking coalition of states and cities from across the nation, will fight back against this unlawful, do-nothing rule in order to protect our future from catastrophic climate change," James said in a statement.

Why you'll hear about this again: The disputes over the Obama administration rule and the Trump EPA's replacement center in part on whether the EPA, under the Clean Air Act, can promote broad changes to the electricity system that go beyond emissions from specific plants.

  • Trump administration officials, when rolling out their "Affordable Clean Energy" rule in June, argued that Obama's EPA went beyond its Clean Air Act authority.

The new litigation was filed in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit. The EPA told Axios in a statement: "EPA does not comment on pending litigation. In regards to ACE, EPA worked diligently to ensure we produced a solid rule, that we believe will be upheld in the courts, unlike the previous Administration’s Clean Power Plan."

Go deeper:

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DOJ watchdog to probe whether officials sought to alter election results

Former President Donald Trump and former First Lady Melania Trump exit Air Force One in West Palm Beach, Florida, on Jan. 20. Photo: Alex Edelman/AFP via Getty Images

The Justice Department's inspector general will investigate whether any current or former DOJ officials "engaged in an improper attempt to have DOJ seek to alter the outcome" of the 2020 election, the agency announced Monday.

Driving the news: The investigation comes in the wake of a New York Times report that alleged that Jeffrey Clark, the head of DOJ's civil division, had plotted with President Trump to oust acting Attorney General Jeffery Rosen in a scheme to overturn the election results in Georgia.

1 hour ago - Podcasts

Google's chief health officer Karen DeSalvo on vaccinating America

Google on Monday became the latest Big Tech company to get involved with COVID-19 vaccinations. Not just by doing things like incorporating vaccination sites into its maps, but by helping to turn some of its offices and parking lots into vaccination sites.

Axios Re:Cap goes deeper into what Google is doing, and why now, with Dr. Karen DeSalvo, Google's chief health officer who previously worked at HHS and as health commissioner for New Orleans.

Biden signs order overturning Trump's transgender military ban

Photo: Tom Brenner/Getty Images

President Biden signed an executive order on Monday overturning the Trump administration's ban on transgender Americans serving in the military.

Why it matters: The ban, which allowed the military to bar openly transgender recruits and discharge people for not living as their sex assigned at birth, affected up to 15,000 service members, according to tallies from the National Center for Transgender Equality and Transgender American Veterans Association.

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