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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.

Go deeper

Ben Geman, author of Generate
Nov 2, 2020 - Energy & Environment

Trump's Paris agreement endgame is here

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

On Nov. 4, the U.S. will have bailed (pretty sure that's the precise diplomatic term) on the Paris climate agreement, but the date's significance depends almost entirely on what happens a day earlier.

Driving the news: Wednesday marks a year since the Trump administration started the one-year countdown required under the pact's rules to formally abandon the deal, though President Trump first announced the plan back in 2017.

Texas Republicans pass new congressional maps in their favor

Photo: Matthew Busch/Bloomberg via Getty Images

The Texas House voted 84-59 late Monday to approve new congressional district maps that reduce the number of districts with Black and Hispanic majorities, per the Texas Tribune.

Why it matters: The legislation comes after recent census figures found Texas' growing diverse population doesn't bode well for Republicans, who then worked to protect incumbents with the redrawn maps.

2 hours ago - World

North Korea's military fires another ballistic missile into sea

A woman in Seoul, South Korea, walks past a television image if North Korean leader Kim Jong-un. Photo: Jung Yeon-je/AFP via Getty Images

North Korea's military fired at least one ballistic missile into the sea off its east coast on Tuesday, per multiple reports.

Why it matters: Pyongyang's latest in a series of recent missile launches happened hours after U.S. officials emphasized their commitment to restart negotiations on North Korea's nuclear weapons program, which have stalled since talks broke down during the Trump administration, AP notes.