Trump Sold Beverly Hills Estate to Foreign Business Partner for $13.5 Million

Donald Trump hasn’t completely given up the real estate business while he’s in the oval office.

The Trump Organization quietly sold a 5 bedroom, 6 bath Beverly Hills estate to an Indonesian business partner for $13.5 million. That’s nearly double what the President paid for the property in 2007, when he was in charge of the company. (Sons Don Jr. and Eric are overseeing the Trump Organization while their father is president.)

Hary Tanoesoedibjo, an Indonesian billionaire also known as Hary Tanoe, purchased the property via an offshore entity called Hillcrest Asia Limited. He’s a Trump associate, who developed two Trump-branded resorts in Indonesia and attended the 2017 inauguration. Like Trump, he is said to have political aspirations in his country.

The two story, 5,395 square foot home, located at 809 N. Canon Dr. was sold off-market. Built in 1927, it sits on a 0.67 acre estate, with a swimming pool out back. It has been something of a headache for the Trump Organization since his election, as it has been repeatedly fined by the city of Beverly Hills for violating a city code on hedge height. (Fines, to date, have topped $1,100.)

Tanoesoedibjo ran for vice president of the country in 2014 and has been organizing his own political party for a possible run in 2019. His possible political future has sparked concerns about potential conflicts of interest if his business relationship with Trump becomes a diplomatic one as well.

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Norwegian Islanders Want to End Conventional Time Keeping When Sun Doesn’t Set

Residents of a Norwegian island where the sun doesn’t set for 69 days of the year want to go “time-free” and have more flexible school and working hours to make the most of their long summer days.

People on the island of Sommaroey are pushing to get rid of traditional business hours and “conventional time-keeping” during the midnight sun period that lasts from May 18 to July 26, resident Kjell Ove Hveding said Wednesday.

Hveding met with a Norwegian lawmaker this month to present a petition signed by dozens of islanders in support of declaring a “time-free zone” and to discuss any practical and legal obstacles to basically ignoring what it says on clocks.

“It’s a bit crazy, but at the same it is pretty serious,” he said.

Sommaroey, which lies north of the Arctic Circle, stays dark from November to January. The idea behind the time-free zone is that going off the clock would make it easier for residents, especially students, employers and workers, to make the most of the precious months when the opposite is true.

Having no clocks “is a great solution but we likely won’t become an entirely time-free zone as it will be too complex,” Hveding said. “But we have put the time element on the agenda, and we might get more flexibility … to adjust to the daylight.”

“The idea is also to chill out. I have seen people suffering from stress because they were pressed by time,” he said.

Sitting west of Tromsoe, the island has a population of 350. Fishery and tourism are the main industries.

Finland last year lobbied for the abolition of European Union daylight savings time after a citizens’ initiative collected more than 70,000 signatures.

Alexandra Ocasio-Cortez Has a Message for Democrats After ‘Boy Bye’ Tweet

Leave it to Alexandra Ocasio-Cortez to put politicians in check on Twitter–this time it’s her fellow Democrats.

On Wednesday, the freshman Congresswoman from New York responded to a tweet on Saturday from the Democratic National Committee’s official Twitter account.

The tweet mentions a phone wallpaper featuring President Donald Trump’s face along with the words “Boy Bye,” a famous lyric from Beyonc?’s 2016 hit song “Sorry” (Yep, that song that also says “He better call Becky with the good hair”) placed on top of it. The wallpaper can be downloaded by texting a five-digit number.

Ocasio-Cortez gave a rather snarky reply to her DNC colleagues.

“Someone didn’t go to my Twitter class,” she said.

The Congresswoman is no stranger to letting her feelings be known on Twitter, even clapping back to politicians, including President Donald Trump. On Sunday, she called out Trump’s “bluff” on Twitter after he tweeted comments she said earlier during a TV interview about the Democrats’ mounting pressure to try to impeach him.

“Mr. President, you’re from Queens. You may fool the rest of the country, but I’ll call your bluff any day of the week,” Ocasio-Cortez, a native from The Bronx, tweeted late Sunday. “Opening an impeachment inquiry is exactly what we must do when the President obstructs justice, advises witnesses to ignore legal subpoenas, & more,” she continued.

She also added the word “Bye,” and a waving-hand emoji.

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‘Borderlands 3’ Brings Big Potential Profits, Big Potential Headaches to Take-Two

Video game maker Take-Two Interactive is no stranger to controversy.

In recent years, the publisher Grand Theft Auto series has had to defend itself innumerable times over that hit game’s often violent content. And now Take-Two must do so again over accusations against the independent company that is developing Take-Two’s highly-anticipated game, Borderlands 3, which is to premiere on Sept. 13.

In the past few months, Randy Pitchford, the head of Gearbox Software, the company developing Borderlands, has faced a number of accusations. Gearbox’s former general counsel filed a lawsuit accusing Pitchford of, among other things, taking a secret $12 million bonus that risked reducing the royalties that other employees ultimately received from the latest installment in the series. (Pitchford has countersued.)

Meanwhile, a former Borderlands voice actor has accused Pitchford of assault, saying he was shoved during an altercation at the 2017 Game Developer’s Conference. However, the actor never reported it to authorities.

Gearbox has denied the accusations, but the gaming world is still talking about them. And that puts Strauss Zelnick, Take-Two’s CEO, in an awkward spot. Borderlands 3 is expected to be critical to the company’s business this year, but even though Gearbox is an independent developer, Take-Two, as the game’s publisher, could suffer some damage to its reputation.

Zelnick, though, downplays the risk.

“Gearbox has said the complaints are without merit and we take them at their word,” he says. “The marketing of the game is all about the game, and shouldn’t be about the individual. … I don’t think a black and white perspective is helpful here. There are certain behaviors that, by their nature, are unacceptable and there are others that are less so. Allegations are different than facts. And everyone has to make their own decision.”

Zelnick says he “wouldn’t rule out” an independent investigation, but there are no plans to conduct one now.

“I think in the world of social media, everyone has a voice and there’s great power in that and I’d be the last to criticize it, but there are moments where reputations are unfairly tarnished,” he says. “I’m a big believer that allegations require a full hearing. … We stand behind what we do and that means we take responsibility for choices that are made on our watch.”

The troubles surrounding Borderlands 3 come at the same time the overall video game industry is facing calls for developers to unionize, amid concerns over the long hours they put in at the end of a game’s development (known as “crunch” in the industry). At the annual E3 video game conference in Los Angeles last week, proponents handed out flyers to attendees about their unionization push.

Zelnick says Take-Two prides itself on having a great work environment, and will comply if employees decide to organize, but says he doesn’t see it as a necessary step.

“Most people who work in this industry are utterly passionate about what they do and are devoted to working hard to create the very best outcome,” he says. “Sometimes there are challenging moments, where you really have to put in extra effort. All of us do that. All of us at Take-Two do that and all of us in the industry do that.”

Take-Two’s Rockstar Games studio (makers of Grand Theft Auto) have been in the center of the debate about unionization, with stories of extended working hours during crunch times. Zelnick did not address those complaints.

He did, however, discuss in a very roundabout way what could be next for the superstar developer. Take-Two never talks about any element of Rockstar’s upcoming games until they’re revealed. And with Red Dead Redemption 2 hitting shelves last year, it’s likely going to be a while before we hear about Rockstar’s next title.

Rockstar’s Grand Theft Auto V came out in 2013, but was still one of last year’s top sellers. The game’s multiplayer component, GTA Online, has been a tremendous profit driver for Take-Two, and has typically been the single biggest contributor to repeat consumer spending each quarter.

However, when asked if Rockstar’s current focus was on single player games or the lucrative online components of GTA Online and Red Dead, Zelnick hinted at a third, unknown option.

“Going forward, the Rockstar team sets the standard for recreating themselves and recreating everything that they’re working on,” he said. “And the last thing they are would be devoting themselves to slavishly recreating the past. To the contrary, I think they’re totally focused on anything they do, exploding expectations.”

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4 Things Investors Need to Know About Slack’s Direct Listing

Slack is finally going public this week–but don’t expect an IPO.

The workplace messaging company is opting instead for a so-called direct listing.

Unlike an ordinary IPO, a direct listing means the company doesn’t issue any new shares and doesn’t raise additional capital. It’s primarily a way for company insiders to sell some of their holdings to investors, while bypassing the formidable fees and requirements of using an underwriter. As Fortune has reported, only companies that are in excellent financial shape and already have widespread name recognition are good candidates for direct listings.

According to the most recent reports, the collaboration software company will be seeking a $16 billion to $17 billion valuation–over double their value during their most recent private valuation of $7 billion.

However unlike IPOs, direct listings carry a unique set of challenges and considerations. Here’s what investors should look for.

Watch for volatility

Although Slack’s listing won’t have the same kind of investor hype as other stocks that went the traditional IPO route like Lyft or Zoom, analysts suggest watching for volatility to gauge the true market value of the company’s stock.

“Clearly what we’re going to be looking for on the day of is how stable the stock is in the immediate trading, because obviously there are no professional underwriters and market makers that are paid to stabilize the stock,” says Jane Leung, the managing director and chief investment officer at Scenic Advisement, a bank for private companies.

In terms of volatility, Leung thinks Spotify–which debuted last year via a direct listing–set a good precedent for Slack stock to follow. She says that investors saw the Spotify direct listing as very orderly compared to other more traditional IPOs.

But investors likely shouldn’t be too concerned about another Lyft or Zoom situation in terms of market volatility.

According to Eric Jensen, a partner at Cooley LLP, investors shouldn’t be seeing a lot of “fireworks” with the Slack debut.

With the pure supply-and-demand nature of listings like Slack, investors should monitor–but likely not be too concerned about–volatility in the first few days of trading.

Will they follow-on?

Although analysts are speculative about Slack’s future plans, some suggest the company may do a so-called follow-on offering–a sort of second issuing of stock typically a few months after its first release to the public.

“It’s possible that anybody that does a direct listing just does a follow-on offering a month from now and it just looks like an IPO, it’s just a funky-looking IPO,” Deloitte & Touche Partner Barrett Daniels said. If Slack were to go down the follow-on offering route, Daniels suggests, other concerns about the possible short-sighted nature of foregoing the opportunity to raise cash–especially in an uncertain market when an extra billion couldn’t hurt–would be reduced.

And other analysts like Jensen suggest that if Slack sees an increase in trading prices from their $16 to $17 billion target, then “they’d be crazy not to say, ‘well, even if we don’t want to take too much dilution, … at these prices, why not raise an extra x billion.'”

If investor demand is high, as several analysts suggest it may be, Slack could see a subsequent debut as an option.

“There is a lot of investor appetite for [collaboration software],” said Rishi Jaluria, the senior vice president and senior research analyst at D.A. Davidson & Co.

Regardless, Slack’s already ample cash in the bank, a reported $841 million in 2018, according to the company’s S-1 filing, could last the company an additional 8.6 years at its current burn rate.

Keep an eye on growth

One thing to watch, say analysts, is the company’s growth.

Although growth declined slightly from the previous year, Slack’s revenues still grew about 82% in 2018. And most analysts remain bullish.

“The growth story and aftermarket performance of recent workplace collaboration businesses should give investors something positive to latch onto,” Cameron Stanfill, VC analyst at PitchBook, wrote in a note. And Stanfill isn’t alone.

While Slack’s growth has slowed slightly, Leung says that is typical for maturing companies. “They do have a lot of growth prospects…but even if they end up losing some of the value or don’t make quite a $16 or $17 billion valuation, they’ll still be a very strong tech company with a lot of headway,” Leung said.

According to the company’s latest projections, Slack expects to generate at least $590 million in revenue in the 2020 fiscal yearwhich would give the company a growth rate of 50% compared to the previous year.

In fact, Bloomberg Intelligence estimates Slack could generate up to 65% of their revenue in the next year from free-to-premium conversion–something investors bullish on the workplace communication system should keep an eye on.

Direct listings may not be the future of IPOs

But despite the nature of the listing, Slack’s decision to go with a direct listing over the traditional IPO stirs up questions on Wall Street–including the viability of ditching underwriters (and their standard 180-day lockups) altogether.

Some analysts see the path companies like Spotify and now Slack are blazing as a new direction for unicorns.

“I do think that it will be a bit of a milestone in the journey of how the IPO window has changed,” Leung said. “A lot of tech companies are not that keen on the traditional banking fees, and I think that the times are really changing.”

Leung says that since more and more money is being raised from the private markets in recent years, direct listings are entirely feasible for the right candidates (i.e. those with the right cash flows).

But despite the hype, plenty of other analysts see the Spotify (and potentially Slack) success story as a one-off.

“I think direct listings of these significant unicorns is still a bit of a new world,” Daniels said. Daniels believes traditional IPOs aren’t going anywhere, and that they’ll be “a significant part of the capital markets for the foreseeable future.”

“Two is a trend, but it’s not a terribly meaningful trend,” Daniels said.

With the universe of “unicorns” (private companies valued at $1 billion or more) now around 400 according to Daniels, he estimates only about 10–or roughly 2.5%–will be good candidates for the direct listing approach.

We’re guessing some of them will be side-slacking about that very topic tomorrow.

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Ford Calls Mustang Shelby GT500 Its ‘Most Powerful Street-Legal’ Vehicle Ever

Ford is looking to corner the muscle car market with the new Mustang Shelby GT500.

The automaker announced Wednesday the forthcoming vehicle will be “the most powerful street-legal Ford ever,” with 760 horsepower and 625 lb.-ft of torque. And rather than filling the press release with corporate speak, Ford simply added “Enough said.”

The Mustang Shelby GT500 will go from 0-to-60 in three seconds and is designed to rival Chevrolet’s top muscle car, the Camaro ZL1 1LE, as well as exotic European sports cars.

It’s notably faster than the 2018 Ford Mustang GT, which takes a leisurely four seconds to go from 0-to-60. That model features a 5.0-liter V8 engine that produces 460 horsepower and 420 pounds of torque.

The Ford Mustang is, comparably, one of the automaker’s smaller brands, especially when its annual sales are compared to its flagship F-Series. But it’s a recognizable name among both auto enthusiasts and casual car fans, making it an important brand for the company, regardless of sales.

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Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg’s Approval Rating Nosedives. Here’s Where He Ranks

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg is losing support among his employees amid a series of privacy stumbles, antitrust inquires, and complaints that he did little to stop disinformation campaigns on the social network he co-founded.

Zuckerberg was ranked No. 55 on the Top CEOs in 2019 list by jobs reviews site Glassdoor, which asks employees of all companies to rate their chief executives.

It was the worst showing for Zuckerberg since Glassdoor started polling employees about their CEOs in 2013. That year, Zuckerberg was No. 1 on the list. He stayed in the top 10 through 2017, and then, last year, fell to No. 16.

This year, the top CEO on Glassdoor’s list was VMWare CEO Pat Gelsinger, followed by Charles Butt, CEO of Texas grocery chain HEB, and In-N-Out Burger chief Lynsi Snyder. T-Mobile CEO John Legere and Adobe CEO Shantanu Narayen rounded out of the top five.

Zuckerberg ended up just behind Schneider Electric CEO Jean-Pascal Tricoire (No. 54) and just ahead of Sajan Pillai, chief of digital IT services company UST Global (No. 56).

Zuckerberg’s colossal drop this year was conspicuous in a list that hasn’t changed all that much over the past year. Major technology CEOs, like Microsoft’s Satya Nadella, who was No. 6 this year, still remain popular with their employees.

Glassdoor doesn’t provide a details about each CEO’s rankings, but Zuckerberg’s apparent fall is likely a result of the recent controversy surrounding his company–and his tenure.

Last year, Facebook came under fire after it was discovered that data analytics company Cambridge Analytica obtained Facebook user data to deliver political ads to Facebook users in prelude to the 2016 election. The revelation came amid widespread criticism that Facebook didn’t do enough during the 2016 Presidential election to stop Russia from using Facebook to try to sway votes.

Also last year, Facebook was attacked for the nature of posts it allowed on its service. In August, it banned conspiracy theorist Alex Jones, long after rival services did. And in November, The New York Times reported that top Facebook executives tried to cover up the Russian 2016 election scandal–a claim Facebook and Zuckerberg have denied. The Times followed that report in December with another that said Facebook shared user data with major technology companies without obtaining user consent.

The trouble continued this year, after Facebook let the New Zealand mosque shooter livestream his killing spree. Soon after, Facebook changed its policies to suspend people who share inappropriate content on the service.

Still, despite his declining approval among employees, Zuckerberg doesn’t appear to be going anywhere. He has a lock on his CEO position, by virtue of the fact that he controls a majority of shareholder votes.

Even the Glassdoor survey may not be cause for too much concern. He still had a 94% approval rating among employees.

Women’s Sex Toy Startup Sues New York City MTA Over ‘Double Standard’ in Advertising Rules

New York’s Metropolitan Transit Authority has never allowed advertising of sex toys–but it’s run plenty of sexually suggestive ads, notably for products addressing male-oriented issues like erectile dysfunction.

Sex toy startup Dame, which manufactures products geared toward women, developed an ad campaign featuring small vibrators and phrases including, “Toys, for sex.” The campaign was rejected by the MTA in December, and now Dame is suing the transit authority for damages. The rejection “reveals the MTA’s sexism, its decision to privilege male interests in its advertising choices, and its fundamental misunderstanding of Dame’s products,” the company said in its complaint.

“Just because we are talking about sex in public, doesn’t mean we are saying you should have sex in public,” Dame CEO Alexandra Fine says, “and just because we are talking about sex doesn’t mean it has to be arousing.”

The five-year-old, Brooklyn-based startup says it invested $150,000 in the defunct ad campaign and “suffered substantial economic losses” from the MTA’s decision. Its lawsuit in the Southern District of New York cites the MTA’s approval of ads for the Museum of Sex, birth control pills, and treatment for erectile dysfunction.

The MTA’s guidelines on advertising in this category–a market projected to reach $35.5 billion worldwide by 2023–specifically prohibit “advertisements for sex toys or devices for any gender.”

“The MTA’s advertising is in no way gender-based or viewpoint discriminatory,” MTA Chief External Affairs Officer Maxwell Young said in a statement.

Dame’s lawsuit arrived the same week that women’s co-working space The Wing had an ad campaign rejected by Boston’s transit authority. In that campaign, the phrases “Want to mute the mansplainers and start your own conversation?” and “The World was built for men. The Wing is built for you.” were flagged as “political issues or matters of public debate” in violation of the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority’s advertising policy.

Fine hopes Dame’s lawsuit will address both the MTA’s stance on advertising sex toys and what she sees as a gender-based bias and double standard in what is and is not permitted to appear around New York.

“I was very much willing to work with them,” Fine says. “In life and sex, you know it’s always about a push and a pull.”

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Another Cancer-Causing Chemical Found in Popular Blood Pressure Medication

For the fourth time in the past year, a widely used blood pressure medication is under review amid concerns it could contain chemicals that have been found to cause cancer.

Valisure, an online pharmacy licensed in 37 states, has alerted the Food and Drug Administration of high levels of dimethylformamide (DMF) in valsartan, which is produced by several pharmaceutical companies and often combined with other medicines into a single pill.

The pharmacy is asking a recall for the pills and requesting the FDA revise its acceptable intake levels of DMF from the current level of 8,800,000 nanograms to under 1,000 nanograms. The FDA has not yet responded to that request. The government agency is evaluating the findings.

Patients are being advised to continue taking the medicine for now, since abruptly discontinuing the pills can have negative effects.

Valisure says it found excessive DMF levels in valsartan products from six companies.

Blood pressure medications have been put under increasing scrutiny of late, with several recalls in the past year. In February, the FDA expanded its recall on Losartan. Irbesartan doses were recalled last November. And companies including Major Pharmaceuticals, Solco Healthcare, and Teva Pharmaceuticals have recalled numerous lots of medications that contain valsartan, and Teva has now recalled all non-expired valsartan-containing products it sells on the U.S. market, including amlodipine-valsartan and amlodipine-valsartan-hydrochlorothiazide combination tablets.

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EPA Rollback of Obama-Era Rule for Coal-Fired Plants: What Happens Next

The Trump administration on Wednesday completed one of its biggest rollbacks of environmental rules, replacing a landmark Obama-era effort that sought to wean the nation’s electrical grid off coal-fired power plants and their climate-damaging pollution.

Environmental Protection Agency chief Andrew Wheeler, a former coal industry lobbyist, signed a replacement rule that gives states leeway in deciding whether to require efficiency upgrades at existing coal plants.

Wheeler said coal-fired power plants remained essential to the power grid, something that opponents deny. “Americans want reliable energy that they can afford,” he said at a news conference. There’s no denying “the fact that fossil fuels will continue to be an important part of the mix,” he said.

Rep. David McKinley, a West Virginia Republican, was one of several coal country lawmakers on hand for the signing. He argued that power from the sun and wind was not yet reliable enough to depend on. “We’re not ready for renewable energy … so we need coal.”

President Donald Trump campaigned partly on a pledge to bring back the coal industry, which has been hit hard by competition from cheaper natural gas and renewable energy.

The rule will go into effect shortly after publication in the Federal Register. Environmental groups pledge court challenges.

“The Trump administration’s outrageous Dirty Power Scam is a stunning giveaway to big polluters, giving dirty special interests the greenlight to choke our skies, poison our waters and worsen the climate crisis,” House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., said in a statement.

Joseph Goffman, an EPA official under President Barack Obama, said he feared that the Trump administration was trying to set a legal precedent that the Clean Air Act gives the federal government “next to no authority to do anything” about climate-changing emissions from the country’s power grid.

The Obama rule, adopted in 2015, sought to reshape the country’s power system by encouraging utilities to rely less on dirtier-burning coal-fired power plants and more on electricity from natural gas, solar, wind and other lower or no-carbon sources.

Burning of fossil fuels for electricity, transportation and heat is the main human source of heat-trapping carbon emissions.

Supporters of the revised rule say the Obama-era plan overstepped the EPA’s authority.

“This action is recalibrating EPA so it aligns with being the agency to protect public health and the environment in a way that respects the limits of the law,” said Mandy Gunasekara, a former senior official at the EPA who helped write the replacement rule. She now runs a nonprofit, Energy45, that supports President Donald Trump’s energy initiatives.

“The Clean Power Plan was designed largely to put coal out of business,” Gunasekara said. Trump’s overhaul is meant to let states “figure out what is best for their mission in terms of meeting modern environmental standards” and providing affordable energy, she said.

Democrats and environmentalists say the Trump administration has ignored scientific warnings about climate change as it sought to protect the sagging U.S. coal industry.

“The growing climate crisis is the existential threat of our time and President Trump’s shameful response was to put lobbyists and polluters in charge of protecting your health and safety,” Pelosi said.

With coal miners at his side, Trump signed an order in March 2017 directing the EPA to scrap the Obama rule. It was one of the first acts of his presidency.

His pledge to roll back regulation for the coal industry helped cement support from owners and workers in the coal industry, and others. Despite his promise, market forces have frustrated Trump’s efforts. Competition from cheaper natural gas and renewable fuel has continued a yearslong trend driving U.S. coal plant closings to near-record levels last year, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration.

By encouraging utilities to consider spending money to upgrade aging coal plants, environmental groups argue, the Trump rule could prompt the companies to run existing coal plants harder and longer rather than retiring them.

“It’s a rule to increase emissions because it’s a rule to extend the life of coal plants,” said Conrad Schneider, advocacy director of the Clean Air Task Force. “You invest in updating an old coal plant, it makes it more economic” to run it more to pay off that investment.

An Associated Press analysis Tuesday of federal air data showed U.S. progress on cleaning the air may be stagnating after decades of improvement. There were 15% more days with unhealthy air in America both last year and the year before than there were on average from 2013 through 2016, the four years when America had its fewest number of those days since at least 1980.

Trump has repeatedly claimed just the opposite, saying earlier this month in Ireland: “We have the cleanest air in the world, in the United States, and it’s gotten better since I’m president.”

Along with an initiative requiring tougher mileage standards for cars and light trucks, the Clean Power Plan was one of Obama’s two legacy efforts to slow climate change. The Trump administration also is proposing to roll back the Obama-era mileage standards, with a final rule expected shortly. Environmental groups promise court challenges to both rollbacks.

Trump has rejected scientific warnings on climate change, including a report this year from scientists at more than a dozen federal agencies noting that global warming from fossil fuels “presents growing challenges to human health and quality of life.”

The EPA’s own regulatory analysis last year estimated that Trump’s replacement ACE rule would kill an extra 300 to 1,500 people each year by 2030, owing to additional air pollution from the power grid.