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

21 mins ago - Health

Axios-Ipsos poll: Fear of voting

Data: Axios/Ipsos poll; Note: ±3.0% margin of error for the total sample; Chart: Andrew Witherspoon/Axios

Democrats are twice as likely as Republicans to worry about in-person voting — with nearly two in three seeing it as a large or moderate risk to their health — according to this week's installment of the Axios-Ipsos Coronavirus Index.

Why it matters: This could pose a significant disadvantage for Joe Biden and other Democratic candidates in November if the pattern holds — especially in states where high infection rates persist, or where there are significant hurdles to mail-in, absentee or early voting.

Trump: Coronavirus is "under control"

President Trump said in an interview with “Axios on HBO” that he thinks the coronavirus is as well-controlled in the U.S. as it can be, despite dramatic surges in new infections over the course of the summer and more than 150,000 American deaths.

  • “They are dying, that's true. And you have — it is what it is. But that doesn't mean we aren't doing everything we can. It's under control as much as you can control it. This is a horrible plague,” he told Axios' Jonathan Swan.
Updated 2 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of 5 a.m. ET: 18,295,434 — Total deaths: 694,233 — Total recoveries — 10,926,704Map.
  2. U.S.: Total confirmed cases as of 5 a.m. ET: 4,717,716 — Total deaths: 155,471 — Total recoveries: 1,513,446 — Total tests: 57,543,852Map.
  3. Education — Fauci: Schools can reopen with safeguards, but those in virus hot spots should remain closed
  4. Politics: White House will require staff to undergo randomized testing — Pelosi says Birx "enabled" Trump on misinformation.
  5. Sports: 13 members of St. Louis Cardinals test positive, prompting MLB to cancel Tigers series — Former FDA chief says MLB outbreaks should be warning sign.
  6. 1 🎥 thing: "Tenet" may be the first major film to get a global pandemic release.