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STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

Your local auto dealer's parking lot could look very different in a few years.

MICHEL MARTIN, HOST:

A new federal rule makes it likely that that lot will have a lot more electric and hybrid vehicles. By 2032, the government expects two-thirds of new cars, trucks and SUVs to have a plug. Here's EPA Administrator Michael Regan.

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MICHAEL REGAN: I'm pleased to announce the strongest vehicle pollution technology standard ever finalized in United States history.

INSKEEP: NPR car and energy correspondent Camila Domonoske joins us. Camila, good morning.

CAMILA DOMONOSKE, BYLINE: Good morning, Steve.

INSKEEP: I love that job title, by the way - car and energy - you're the car-espondent (ph) is what I think you are.

DOMONOSKE: (Laughter).

INSKEEP: OK. Anyway, anyway. How do these rules work?

DOMONOSKE: Well, they're setting average limits on tailpipe emissions - that includes both greenhouse gases and the stuff in exhaust that's bad for human health - starting in model year 2027. And this is not a ban on gas cars. It's not even a mandate that companies have to make electric cars. What it does is it sets this standard that you can meet however you like so strict for these tailpipe emissions that, realistically, companies are going to have to make a lot of battery-powered cars or at least plug-in electric cars, which also can run on battery power, to meet these rules.

INSKEEP: I got you. So this has been one of the concepts of climate efforts for a while - set a standard, leave it to companies, leave it to industry to figure out how to meet them. But it seems to mean electric cars. So what does this mean for those of us who might be looking for a new car in a few years?

DOMONOSKE: Yeah. So in a few years - three years - not much of a difference. In a few years - eight years - a big difference - a lot more electric vehicles than there would be otherwise. And that timeline - the EPA had initially proposed rules that kicked in a lot faster, and autoworkers and the autoworkers' union and automakers lobbied really hard for a slower start to give more time for things like charging infrastructure. And they got what they asked for. So it kicks in slower.

INSKEEP: It's interesting that the union was against too quick a change here - obviously, big supporters of President Biden. So how does the auto industry itself feel about these final rules now that they've been changed?

DOMONOSKE: Yeah, pretty good. I hear the word challenging a lot, but there's a positive tone. It's important that despite some negative headlines about EVs lately, the auto industry is really adamant that electric vehicles are the future. And in that context, having regulations around how fast that transition happens can be helpful. It puts everyone on the same timeline and gives some certainty around investments.

You know who's not happy about these rules is the oil industry and the biofuels industry, for that matter. Expect some lawsuits challenging them in the future.

INSKEEP: Oh, so a little bit less certainty, depending on how the lawsuits go. I'm thinking about, then, the effects of this. This is - you're saying this is a less radical timeline than the administration initially wanted, but they've adopted the timeline that they can given the politics, given the economics. How good will it be for the environment?

DOMONOSKE: These are still historic standards. Environmental groups say they're very significant. EVs are much cleaner than gas cars, even counting the footprint of batteries and charging, so very significant for the climate. This also helps human health and - side note - saves money on fuel. That's if they stick, like you said, Steve. And that is part of the reason why the administration bent over backwards for the car industry's interests here. The rules are more durable. They're harder to overturn by lawsuit or by future administration if the industry that's actually being regulated will stick out their necks to support them.

INSKEEP: NPR's Camila Domonoske, thanks so much.

DOMONOSKE: Thank you.

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INSKEEP: Alabama is the latest state to prohibit diversity, equity and inclusion initiatives in schools, public colleges and state agencies.

MARTIN: Governor Kay Ivey has signed a bill that embraces a national conservative theme. The governor said she wants to stop, quote, "bad actors" on campuses from pushing a, quote, "liberal political movement."

INSKEEP: Kelsey Shelton with NPR member station WBHM in Birmingham is following this new law and the reaction to it. Good morning.

KELSEY SHELTON, BYLINE: Good morning.

INSKEEP: What exactly does this law do?

SHELTON: So this law mirrors other anti-DEI bills we've seen in other Republican legislatures. The sponsor of the bill said it's designed to protect students from indoctrination in the classroom. This law prohibits public schools, universities and government agencies from maintaining a DEI office or funding any DEI programs. It also requires students use bathrooms that correlate with the sex on their birth certificate. And another big thing in the bill is it stops any program that teaches what the law calls a divisive concept. Any teacher who knowingly violates this act can be fired.

INSKEEP: I'm just dwelling on that phrase divisive concept. What does that mean exactly when you're trying to ban it?

SHELTON: That's the big question. You know, what is a divisive concept? During a debate on the House floor, Democrats actually questioned the language. They tried to get the sponsor, Senator Barfoot, to give a clearer definition. But the best response they got was that it's talking about race or gender or nationality or religion in any way that makes a student feel superior or inferior.

INSKEEP: Ah, which catches another national conservative theme - the idea that talking in a certain way about DEI makes white people feel bad, or may make some white people feel bad. So this is the kind of thing they say they want to prohibit, and teachers can be punished if they're saying too much on this topic. What are you hearing from students about this?

SHELTON: So I spoke with Miguel Luna just after the bill passed. He's a sophomore at the University of Alabama at Birmingham. He was involved in a protest against this bill, and he says students are disappointed by the outcome. I asked him if there have been any changes yet. Were students afraid? Or have any clubs or organizations paused? And he says, actually, it's only made diversity efforts stronger. But Luna was really concerned about losing access to some of the things that make school enjoyable. You know, he's a part of a networking organization for Latino students, and they're worried their adviser might lose her job because she works out of the school's DEI office. But he says he hopes this law will galvanize students.

MIGUEL LUNA: If anything needs to happen in the future, it's people need to start voting and paying attention to state politics.

SHELTON: I've also talked to some students who attended a protest against the bill at the Capitol in Montgomery, along with Luna, earlier this month. Isabella Campos was one of the organizers.

ISABELLA CAMPOS: We as students are able to stand up for ourselves and get external support because regardless of if we're not going to receive funding from the state, we're not going to disappear, and we're not going to be silenced.

INSKEEP: It's interesting that they're arguing that the efforts now need to come from themselves, rather than from some formal state initiative. But whatever their views, they don't seem to have persuaded the Legislature.

SHELTON: No, not quite. So for Republicans, they said this bill was created to protect students. You know, they don't want them to have what they call a, quote, "sense of guilt." When Governor Kay Ivey signed it into law, she said it supports academic freedom, embraces diversity and treats people fairly. But however, at the Capitol protest, students waited outside of the Republican caucus meeting hoping to talk to them, and Luna says legislators went out the back door and would not speak to them.

INSKEEP: Kelsey Shelton of WBHM in Birmingham, thanks so much.

SHELTON: Thank you for having me.

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INSKEEP: The company that calls itself the front page of the internet is becoming a publicly traded stock.

MARTIN: Reddit premieres on the New York Stock Exchange today - its ticker symbol, RDDT. Some of its most active users are not so thrilled and say they might try to disrupt the stock offering.

INSKEEP: NPR tech correspondent Bobby Allyn is here to explain. Bobby, good morning.

BOBBY ALLYN, BYLINE: Good morning.

INSKEEP: I guess we should ask first why Reddit would try to become a public company.

ALLYN: Well, it's about two things, Steve - raising money and becoming profitable. In the company's nearly two-decade history, it has been very bad at precisely these two things. Now, back in 2005, Reddit was founded by Steve Huffman and Alexis Ohanian. They were two college roommates at the University of Virginia. This was barely a year after Mark Zuckerberg founded a little social network known as Facebook from a Harvard dorm. This was, of course, the era of dudes starting social media sites from college dorms, right? But Reddit was a collection of free-wheeling, anything-goes message boards where people posted under pseudonyms about everything from sports to politics to internet memes. Jump ahead to today, Reddit has 73 million users.

INSKEEP: Wow.

ALLYN: But despite all of these people posting on Reddit, it's never been able to turn a profit.

INSKEEP: Why have they not been able to profit off of 73 million users?

ALLYN: They've had scandals over toxic content. They've had leadership crises. The site has not exactly been known for civil discourse. It's been chaotic, not exactly something advertisers want to place ads against. But it really has changed in recent years. It's become more tame and rule-bound than it used to be. And it, you know, makes hundreds of millions of dollars now in advertising.

But it's, you know, really tried to make even more money. Those efforts have run into protests from regular Reddit users. They prefer a scrappy version of the site that doesn't care about making money. Last year, Reddit decided to start charging third-party developers for access to its back-end data.

INSKEEP: Oh, yeah.

ALLYN: Here is how Steve Huffman, the co-founder and CEO, framed that decision in an NPR interview back in June.

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STEVE HUFFMAN: We've been subsidizing other businesses for free for a long time. We're stopping that. That is not a negotiable point. We are simply in an unsustainable position, and so we need to get into a sustainable situation.

ALLYN: Right. And that sparked a huge backlash among Redditors. There was a mass protest that made thousands of communities, known as subreddits, go dark. Some of those users see themselves as the renegades of the internet and that they're pushing against all this Wall Street money that's about to pour into the site.

INSKEEP: How can they do anything about it?

ALLYN: Well, let's go back to 2021. There was this Reddit group that created havoc. It was called WallStreetBets. The users of this group heard that Wall Street was going to bet against this video game store that is now famous, in a way - GameStop. So they sent GameStop's price soaring more than 1,700%. It created crazy market turbulence.

Well, that very group is now talking about throwing sand in the gears yet again because they are grumbling about Reddit becoming more corporate. And Reddit could be inviting this because the company has agreed to set aside 8% of its stock to power users who volunteer to run the site as Reddit's way of giving back. But they may come to regret this because some of these folks on WallStreetBets are now talking about betting against Reddit because they're so angry about the IPO.

INSKEEP: Betting for the stock to decline even as Steve Huffman tries to make it what he calls something that behaves like an adult company.

ALLYN: That's right. Huffman wants the company to mature. And, you know, more than 70 million Redditors just want it to stay a fun, childish playground. And this is really the core tension here, Steve - right? - between the users and its corporate shift.

INSKEEP: NPR's Bobby Allyn, thanks so much.

ALLYN: Thanks, Steve. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by an NPR contractor. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.

Michel Martin is the weekend host of All Things Considered, where she draws on her deep reporting and interviewing experience to dig in to the week's news. Outside the studio, she has also hosted "Michel Martin: Going There," an ambitious live event series in collaboration with Member Stations.
Steve Inskeep is a host of NPR's Morning Edition, as well as NPR's morning news podcast Up First.