The EPA plan to kill Obama-era air pollution limits for trucks with rebuilt engines is idling, even as the agency faces increasing political pressure from some Republican lawmakers.
The Environmental Protection Agency proposed in November 2017 (RIN: 2060-AT79) to eliminate a production cap on trucks using glider kits, which are new truck bodies built for the installation of a used engine. But it is unclear whether the agency will continue to advance those repeal plans. The Trump administration’s fall regulatory agenda, published Oct. 17, lists the effort as a long-term action with a “to be determined” deadline.
The delayed timeline comes as the EPA has faced sharp opposition to the repeal from a wide array of groups—including environmentalists, state regulators, industry groups, and major truck makers such as Volvo Group North America Inc. and Daimler Trucks North America LLC.
The EPA has also faced some setbacks as it attempts to relieve glider kit makers of the requirements. Former EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt on his last day in office oversaw enforcement relief for glider kit companies, but acting Administrator Andrew Wheeler was later forced to walk that back after a federal appeals court slapped down the action.
Glider Kit Emissions
Large manufacturers of new trucks say allowing glider trucks to pollute without limits would undercut the investments they have made to clean up their fleets. Major truck makers worked with the Obama administration in 2016 to craft greenhouse gas limits for the sector, and the glider kit limits were included as part of that regulation.
EPA staff in a November 2017 report found trucks using glider kits emitted at least dozens of times more air pollution than new trucks.
But several House Republicans are ramping up pressure on the EPA to resolve the glider kit repeal. They are urging the agency to delay by five years when glider kit makers must comply with the cap, which formally took effect in January of this year.
“President Donald Trump has made the resolution of gliders an Administration priority, instructing EPA to resolve the issue last spring. However, the EPA has not provided relief to remedy this arbitrary and punitive rule,” seven House Republicans, led by Rep. Bill Posey (R-Fla.), wrote in an Oct. 10 letter to Wheeler.
Congress Role Unclear
Glider kit makers say they have had to lay off hundreds of workers in the past three months, the lawmakers add.
FItzgerald Glider Kits, one of the nation’s largest makers of the equipment and a strong proponent of the repeal, didn’t respond to a request for comment from Bloomberg Environment.
It is unclear whether Congress would be able to take any action or force the EPA to delay the limits. There is bipartisan opposition to repealing the glider kit limits, Paul Billings, senior vice president of public policy for the American Lung Association, told Bloomberg Environment.
He said his and other groups have asked Wheeler to withdraw the repeal proposal and send a clear signal the EPA will abandon efforts to kill the glider kit limits, but they haven’t heard back from him.
“There may be a pattern of some of the Pruitt initiatives slowing down,” Billings said. “But if they really wanted to enforce, they would withdraw them, and they wouldn’t appear on the regulatory agenda.”