The Trump administration is proposing to repeal a key piece of former President Obama’s regulation limiting greenhouse gas emissions from big trucks.
The proposal unveiled Thursday by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) would remove so-called glider trucks from a major regulation written last year that restricted emissions from heavy-duty trucks.
Glider trucks are newly-built truck bodies in which manufacturers install old engines that are not subject to stringent emissions regulations.
The Trump administration argues that the Clean Air Act, which gave Obama the authority to write the emissions rule, does not allow glider trucks to be regulated because they are not motor vehicles or engines.
“The previous administration attempted to bend the rule of law and expand the reach of the federal government in a way that threatened to put an entire industry of specialized truck manufacturers out of business,” EPA Administrator Scott PruittEdward (Scott) Scott PruittOvernight Energy & Environment — Biden makes return to pre-Trump national monument boundaries official Trump-era EPA board member sues over firing EPA bans use of pesticide linked to developmental problems in children MORE said in a statement.
“Accordingly, the agency is taking comment on an interpretation of the Clean Air Act that recognizes the unique nature of a vehicle made up of both new and used component parts. Gliders not only provide a more affordable option for smaller owners and operators, but also serve as a key economic driver to numerous rural communities,” he said.
The EPA received a handful of petitions to remove gliders from the 2016 rule from companies that sell and use gliders, arguing that they cannot be regulated. In August, Pruitt agreed to formally consider the requests.
Environmental and health groups are fighting the change, saying it would increase emissions.
"EPA’s proposal today prioritizes narrow industry special interests over the health of children, people with asthma and heart disease, and other vulnerable populations," American Lung Association President Harold Wimmer said in a statement.
"By giving older, dirty heavy-duty trucks a license to pollute the air we all breathe with nitrogen oxides and particulate matter, this proposal will lead to asthma attacks, lung cancer and premature deaths that could have been avoided," he said. "This proposal would also increase carbon pollution that contributes to climate change, which is already impacting the health of Americans in large parts of the United States today."
The EPA estimated that 10,000 glider trucks are sold each year, representing 5 percent of the new heavy duty truck market.
Wednesday’s action does not affect other parts of the rule. The Obama administration estimated that the regulation as a whole would cut 1.1 billion metric tons of carbon dioxide emissions and make trucks 25 percent more efficient, according to data from the Obama administration.
Last month, amid challenges to the regulation, a federal appeals court halted the section of the 2016 heavy truck rule that applied to truck trailers’ aerodynamics. Opponents had argued that the EPA does not have the authority to regulate trailers.