Trump officials roll back Obama oil train safety rule
University walks back truck pollution study submitted to EPA
A Tennessee university is asking the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to at least temporarily disregard a study it conducted on pollution volumes from certain heavy trucks.
Tennessee Technological University president Philip Oldham told the EPA in a letter this week that "experts within the university have questioned the methodology and accuracy," and the institution is investigating the matter, The New York Times reported.
At issue is the EPA's proposal last year to rescind the Obama administration's regulations on glider trucks, new truck bodies with older engines that previously were subject to the looser pollution rules in place when the old engines were manufactured.
The Obama administration in 2016 closed the regulatory loophole and declared that the glider trucks are subject to modern emissions rules.
That move angered some Republicans, certain truck drivers and companies that sell the trucks, like Tennessee's politically connected Fitzgerald Glider Kits. Such trucks are significantly cheaper than completely new ones.
The company paid Tennessee Tech to study glider emissions, and the study concluded that the trucks' emissions are at or below the levels of completely new vehicles. The study has been criticized by multiple groups, including faculty at Tennessee Tech, and it has not been peer-reviewed.
Fitzgerald cited the study in asking the EPA to repeal the rule, and the EPA cited it in a proposed repeal last year.
But the EPA told the Times that it "did not rely upon the study or even quote directly from it" and "only noted the existence of the study."
Instead, EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt relied mainly on interpreting the Clean Air Act to apply only to newly manufactured vehicles and said the agency cannot regulate glider trucks.
The trucking industry, major truck makers, environmentalists and some states have expressed opposition to Pruitt's stance on the issue.