EDF Asks EPA’s Wheeler to Protect Americans from Super-Polluting Freight Trucks

Environmental Defense Fund (EDF) and its allies today [7/9] formally asked the new acting administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to reverse a potentially disastrous decision that will put more super-polluting freight trucks on America’s roads.

Late last Friday, with no public warning, EPA issued an assurance that it would not enforce pollution limits on “glider trucks.” The non-enforcement policy will allow dirty glider trucks to be manufactured at the high levels seen before pollution limits were put in place. The decision was made as EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt was leaving office and Acting Administrator Andrew Wheeler was taking over.

“This dangerous loophole for super-polluting freight trucks will put Americans’ health and lives at risk, and will give irresponsible manufacturers special treatment over more responsible trucking companies,” said EDF Senior Attorney Martha Roberts. “Andrew Wheeler has the opportunity for a new start at EPA, but reversing this harmful, secretive action must be a first step.”

Glider trucks are heavy-duty freight trucks made by putting old, dirty diesel engines into a new freight truck body. EPA testing found they can emit lethal particulate pollution at up to 450 times the amount from modern engines. EPA estimates that one year of unrestricted sales of these super-polluting trucks will lead to as many as 1,600 premature deaths.

Under America’s Clean Truck Standards, engines used in glider trucks must meet pollution standards corresponding to the truck’s year of assembly. Manufacturers may produce unlimited numbers of glider trucks as long as the older engines are retrofitted so they meet our modern pollution standards.

Then-EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt proposed to repeal pollution standards for glider trucks after a meeting with a major glider manufacturer on May 8, 2017 – the same manufacturer who prominently hosted an event for then-candidate Donald Trump early in his presidential campaign. The proposal foundered after comments underscored its flawed legal reasoning, the White House and EPA Science Advisory Board raised concerns about the lack of supporting analysis, and a misconduct investigation was launched into the one study cited in the proposal.

The proposed loophole for super-polluting glider trucks also faced extensive public opposition from EDF, the American Lung Association and other health experts, Moms Clean Air Force and other concerned citizens, and freight truck companies that make cleaner engines and would now face unfair competition. A loophole that allows for unlimited sale of super-polluting “glider trucks” would put their innovative investments — and their employees’ jobs — at risk.

However, even though the proposed repeal of pollution limits for glider trucks failed, EPA said Friday that it would press ahead and create a loophole by not enforcing pollution standards for them.

Today EDF, Sierra Club, and the Center for Biological Diversity filed a formal request with EPA calling on Andrew Wheeler to reverse Friday’s non-enforcement loophole. EDF also filed a Freedom of Information Act request for records related to Friday’s action.

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