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President Donald Trump. Photo: Nicholas Kamm/AFP/Getty Images. Tesla car charger. Photo: Chesnot/Getty Images

Companies looking to profit off electric cars are suing President Trump for proposing to roll back fuel-efficiency regulations.

Driving the news: A strange bedfellows group formed last year by utilities and Tesla filed suit in the D.C. Circuit earlier this month against the Environmental Protection Agency's move to roll back fuel-efficiency standards. The lawsuit adds to a separate suit filed by California with more than a dozen other states and another filed by several environmental groups.

The bottom line: Rising fuel-efficiency standards would increase demand for electric cars, which would spur electricity demand, a top priority for utilities that are facing largely stagnant electricity demand from buildings. Critics call this rent-seeking. Industry calls it smart business in Washington.

Gritty details: The coalition, called the National Coalition for Advanced Transportation, is made up of 16 entities, mostly utilities (seven of them either Exelon or Exelon subsidiaries) and other companies with a financial stake in growing demand for electric cars, including Tesla.

  • A spokesman for the group says they have reached out to more than two dozen other companies, including American Electric Power, Southern Company and Duke Energy, about joining.

What they're saying: Bob Wyman, a lawyer at Latham & Watkins in Los Angeles who speaks on behalf of the group, said the companies support more flexible standards in response to automaker concerns.

  • Yes, but: A freeze in the current standards, as the administration is considering, would sap investments in new technologies and put the U.S. behind in leadership on this issue, Wyman said.

The big picture: The very existence of this coalition reflects the scrambled industry alliances forming in response to President Trump’s unconventional administration — and his unprecedented rollback of regulations. I covered this dynamic in my latest Harder Line column published earlier this week.

Go deeper

2 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Democrats propose raising debt ceiling through midterms

Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer. Photo: Stefani Reynolds/Bloomberg via Getty Images

House and Senate leadership announced on Monday that they plan to attach a proposal to raise the debt ceiling through Dec. 2022 to a short-term, government funding bill. The bill must pass before the end of the month or Congress risks a shutdown.

Why it matters: Democrats are taking a huge risk by trying to force through an increase of the debt limit in its must-pass funding bill. The move is wishful thinking on behalf of Democrats who are hoping they can get at least 10 centrist Republicans to balk, as well as an effort to put Republicans on record opposing it.

Biden to stress U.S. does not seek new Cold War in UN speech

Photo: Al Drago/Getty Images

President Biden will use his first address before the UN General Assembly to lay out his vision for an era of "intensive diplomacy" with allies and "vigorous competition" with great powers — without a Cold War with China.

Why it matters: Biden will take the podium in New York on Tuesday with his own international credibility in question after the chaotic withdrawal from Afghanistan. His administration also is struggling to build international momentum to fight climate change, the pandemic and rising global authoritarianism.

7 hours ago - Health

Biden administration to lift travel ban for fully vaccinated international travelers

Photo: Win McNamee/Getty Images

White House COVID-19 response coordinator Jeff Zients announced on Monday that the Biden administration will allow fully vaccinated travelers from around the world to enter the U.S. beginning in November.

Why it matters: The announcement comes as President Biden seeks commitments from countries to donate vaccines to the global COVAX initiative. He is expected to host a COVID summit on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly this week, and many of the countries attending have expressed frustration with the travel ban.