EPA reverses course on ‘super-polluting’ truck policy

EPA reverses course on ‘super-polluting’ truck policy
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Acting Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) head Andrew Wheeler has rescinded a memo that stated that the agency wouldn’t enforce regulatory limits on the sales of certain trucks with old engines.

The EPA had issued the memo on July 6, Scott PruittEdward (Scott) Scott PruittTrump admin appeals ruling ordering EPA to ban pesticide Government watchdog probing EPA’s handling of Hurricane Harvey response Wheeler won’t stop America’s addiction to fossil fuels MORE’s last day as administrator before he resigned under the cloud of numerous scandals.

It stated that the agency wouldn’t enforce strict limits the Obama administration had put on “glider trucks,” which are trucks with new bodies but old chassis and engines that don’t meet new, stricter pollution standards. Environmental groups call them “super-polluting” trucks.

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Now, after a federal appeals court blocked EPA from implementing the July 6 policy, Wheeler pulled it back.

“I have concluded that the application of current regulations to the glider industry does not represent the kind of extreme unusual circumstances that support the EPA’s exercise of enforcement discretion,” Wheeler wrote in a memo released late Thursday night.

Wheeler cited a lawsuit against the policy by environmental groups and states, the court’s action to halt it and a 1995 internal EPA policy that sought to greatly restrict how often the EPA decides not to enforce regulations on the books.

Green groups cheered Wheeler’s reversal.

“This is a huge win for all Americans who care about clean air and human health,” Fred Krupp, president of the Environmental Defense Fund, said in a statement.

“These super-polluting diesel freight trucks fill our lungs with a toxic stew of pollution. EPA’s effort to create a loophole allowing more of them onto our roads was irresponsible and dangerous,” he said.

Sen. Tom CarperThomas (Tom) Richard CarperTrump Jr. to Dem Senator: 'You admitted to hitting your wife so hard it gave her a black eye!' Melania Trump's spokeswoman gets Hatch Act warning for #MAGA tweet EPA to abandon restrictions against chemical linked to climate change MORE (Del.), the top Democrat on the Environment and Public Works Committee, had also pushed Wheeler to rescind the policy.

“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,” Carper said in a statement. “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.”

The trucks at issue emit as much as 43 times the nitrogen oxides as new trucks and 55 times the particulate matter, according to research conducted by EPA officials. But they’re about 25 times cheaper than new trucks, largely because the engines don’t have to use the complex emissions control technology of their completely new counterparts.

Some Republicans in Congress are investigating that EPA research, saying the influence of a lobbyist for Volvo Trucks means the analysis may have been conducted improperly.

Research by Tennessee Tech University found that gliders have similar or better emissions profiles compared to new trucks. That research was sponsored by Fitzgerald Glider Kits, one of the nation’s top glider companies, and the university has asked the EPA not to cite it while it is undergoing review for potential improprieties.

The Obama administration instituted a limit in 2016 of 300 glider truck sales per company. Pruitt and other opponents of the Obama-era rule argued that the Clean Air Act only allows regulation of new vehicles, and gliders do not qualify.

The EPA proposed last year to repeal the 300-truck limit. The process of finalizing that repeal is ongoing, which Pruitt said necessitated the July 6 memo.

The Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit put a temporary halt to the memo’s implementation July 18, a day after green groups sued. The judges said the stay was necessary to allow for thorough review of the issue.