Following Pressure from Carper, EPA Reverses Former EPA Administrator Pruitt’s Decision to Stop Enforcing Air Emission Standards for High-Polluting Glider Trucks

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, Senator Tom Carper (D-Del.), top Democrat on the Environment and Public Works Committee, released the following statement after the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced it would reverse former EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt’s last-minute decision to stop enforcing air emission standards for some of the dirtiest heavy-duty trucks on the road under the Clean Air Act – a sweetheart deal designed for one, specific company. On his last day as EPA Administrator, Scott Pruitt signed a legally questionable document that gave Fitzgerald Glider Kits, the largest glider kit dealer in the country, permission to continue building high-polluting glider trucks for two years. While today’s reversal of former Administrator Pruitt’s sweetheart enforcement deal is an important step, the proposed rule to permanently exempt high-polluting glider trucks from emissions rules has yet to be withdrawn.                    

“With Mr. Pruitt out, I’m glad to see EPA will reverse one of the most egregious – and likely illegal – environmental proposals of his tenure. His senseless proposal ignored the science put out by his own EPA and created a Clean Air Act loophole for an industry friend, all while putting the health of Americans and our environment at risk,” said Senator Carper. “Today’s announcement is a step in the right direction, but the proposed rule to indefinitely exempt some of the dirtiest trucks on the roads that emit 55 times the air pollution of new trucks, is still on the table. I’ll keep pushing to see that this misguided proposal is one that never gets finalized.”

Earlier this month, Senator Carper wrote Acting Administrator Wheeler urging him to withdraw EPA’s proposal to repeal air emission standards for glider trucks, “which appears to largely benefit a single company while being opposed by the vast majority of industry, and was influenced by an industry-funded ‘study’ that is currently the subject of an official investigation into research misconduct for failing to adhere to basic scientific standards.” Senator Carper also raised his concerns around the proposed rule and former EPA Administrator Pruitt’s last-minute and likely illegal enforcement decision with Andrew Wheeler since he was named Acting Administrator.

In March, Senators Carper and Tom Udall (D-N.M.), sent a letter to EPA’s administrator at the time, Scott Pruitt, to urge him to withdraw this “dangerous” and “legally questionable” proposal. The Senators cited their concerns on the effects deregulation of glider vehicle emissions could have on the health of Americans. The senators also questioned the legitimacy of the science used in the EPA’s decision-making process.

Glider trucks, which are new trucks with old, rebuilt diesel engines mostly manufactured between 1998 and 2002, are some of the dirtiest heavy-duty trucks on the road. When left unregulated, glider trucks could create one third of all NOx and PM emissions from heavy-duty trucks by 2025, despite comprising only 5 percent of the heavy-duty fleet. EPA’s 2016 “Phase 2” medium and heavy-duty rule finalized regulations to reduce harmful glider truck emissions.  EPA’s own analysis concluded that unregulated glider truck emissions could prematurely kill thousands of people and increase instances of lung cancer, lung disease, heart disease and asthma.