Scott Pruitt’s parting gift … nixing one more Obama-era regulation

DCNFMichael Bastasch, DCNF

A regulation to strictly limit the sale of refurbished truck engines was effectively repealed on Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Scott Pruitt’s final day in office.

Pruitt’s last day at the agency was Friday, but that same day, EPA shifted its policy towards glider kits, which are trucks with refurbished engines. EPA would not enforce limits on glider kit sales until December 2019. Pruitt announced his resignation on Thursday amid a slew of ethics investigations.

EPA officials told The New York Times “that, through the end of 2019, the EPA will not enforce an annual cap of 300 gliders per manufacturer that had been imposed in January.” The change comes as EPA prepares to finalize its repeal of regulations on glider sales.

Glider manufacturer Fitzgerald petitioned Pruitt in 2017 to lift Obama era regulations. EPA was supposed to submit a finalized repeal of glider regulations earlier this year, but bureaucratic delays have kept Obama-era regulations in place.

The Obama administration issued glider regulations in 2016, getting around the Clean Air Act by reclassifying gliders as “new motor vehicles.” Gliders are refurbished truck engines placed inside a new chassis.

Environmentalists and major truck manufacturers, including Volvo, oppose lifting regulations on gliders. The coalition argues it would allow more polluting engines to remain on the road — but gliders also represent a competitive hurdle for truck manufacturers since they are often cheaper to buy.

Glider sales hit 10,000 in 2015, representing only about 4 percent of all truck sales, but Volvo and others fear that percentage could grow as more companies opt for cheaper, refurbished truck engines.

Anti-glider forces engaged in a lobbying campaign to convince Republican lawmakers to oppose repealing regulations. Emails obtained by publisher Steve Milloy suggest Volvo lobbyists colluded with senior career EPA officials on a study touted by glider opponents.

The study showed that glider kits emitted much more pollution than new engines, but the paper bore no official EPA markings, was never peer-reviewed and was done without the knowledge of senior staff in D.C.

However, Volvo lobbyist Susan Alt somehow obtained a copy of the research findings, which she touted during a December 2017 public hearing on EPA’s proposal to repeal regulations on glider kits.

“The emails show that Volvo lobbyists were working to supplying EPA staff with glider trucks so that rogue EPA staff could dishonestly ‘test’ glider emissions and issue a damning report that could be waved about at a public hearing on the proposed rule rollback,” Milloy said of the emails he uncovered.

Obama-era regulations forced Fitzgerald to cut glider kit production from 3,000 units to 300 units by the end of the year. The company announced a third-round of layoffs in mid-June, but EPA’s new stance on enforcement may help turn things around.

“The Agency is exercising its enforcement discretion in 2018 and 2019,” EPA spokeswoman Molly Block told The Times.

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