Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios
The EPA's internal watchdog is opening a probe into how the agency wrote controversial rules that weakened Obama-era carbon emissions standards for cars and light trucks.
Why it matters: The Obama-era emissions and mileage standards that extended into the mid-2020s were a pillar of the former president's climate change agenda.
- The Trump administration's rewrite has been among the most sprawling and bitter regulatory fights in recent years, and has led to splits within the auto industry, too.
- The inspector general said the office will explore whether the rules met transparency and record-keeping requirements and "followed the EPA’s process for developing final regulatory actions."
- The new probe opens another front in the ongoing legal and political tussles over the standards.
The big picture: The prior rules would have required roughly 5% annual efficiency improvements, while the rewritten standards finalized this year mandate 1.5% year-over-year gains.
- Trump officials called the Obama standards unwieldy and said the rewritten rules will cut traffic deaths — a conclusion that critics contest.
The intrigue: The ultimate shape of U.S. auto rules will be in flux for a while. The new standards are being litigated, and if Joe Biden wins, he'd look to revive more stringent requirements and extend them.