Sep 6, 2019

WSJ: Justice Dept. probes carmakers in California emissions deal

Attorney General Bill Barr. Photo: Drew Angerer/Getty Images

The Justice Department (DOJ) has opened an antitrust inquiry into 4 major automakers who recently struck a deal with California to boost emissions standards for their nationwide fleets, The Wall Street Journal reports.

Why it matters: The report, if correct, signals the opening of a new and high-stakes front in the fight between California and the White House over vehicle emissions and mileage rules.

Where it stands: The WSJ reports that DOJ is seeking to determine if Ford, VW, Honda and BMW "violated federal competition law by agreeing with each other to follow tailpipe-emissions standards beyond those proposed by the Trump administration."

The story cites anonymous sources familiar with the matter. DOJ declined to comment.

The big picture: The reported probe comes as the Trump administration is preparing to freeze Obama-era carbon emissions and mileage standards, rather than allowing them to grow significantly stronger through the mid-2020s.

One big question: Whether the prospect of facing an antitrust probe could deter other automakers from joining the pact with California.

Quick take: The development deepens the complexity of the regulatory battle for automakers. The industry chafed at Obama-era rules, calling them too strict, but does not support President Trump's effort to freeze the standards outright.

The industry hopes to avoid having to make cars for a split U.S. market in which California, the largest U.S. market, and roughly a dozen states that follow its lead have one set of rules that are different than the federal standards.

Go deeper:

Go deeper

Feds aims to block California's emissions end run

Photo: Ken Ross/VW PICS/Universal Images Group via Getty Images

President Trump is pulling out all the stops to shut down an effort by California to enlist automakers on a plan that would undermine his administration’s effort to roll back strict Obama-era carbon emissions and mileage mandates.

Where it stands: The Justice Department is seeking to determine if Ford, VW, Honda and BMW "violated federal competition law by agreeing with each other to follow tailpipe-emissions standards beyond those proposed by the Trump administration," WSJ reports.

Go deeperArrowSep 6, 2019

New twist in the Trump-California auto fight

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

The Trump administration could soon move to revoke California's authority to set vehicle pollution rules that are tougher than federal standards, per multiple reports Thursday.

Why it matters: It’s the next phase in the high-stakes battle between the White House and California over carbon emissions and mileage rules and a key part of the wider White House effort to freeze Obama-era standards, rather than allowing them to get significantly tougher through the mid-2020s.

Go deeperArrowSep 6, 2019

Trump moves to block California from setting own auto emissions rules

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

The battle between the Trump administration and California over vehicle carbon emissions and mileage is getting hotter.

The latest: Trump announced on Twitter Wednesday that the EPA will revoke California's waiver under the Clean Air Act that enables the state to set CO2 emissions rules that exceed federal standards.

Go deeperArrowUpdated Sep 18, 2019