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US EPA will not enforce regulatory requirements for glider trucks

9 July 2018

Update (19 July 2018): The D.C. Circuit Court issued a temporary stay of the EPA’s decision to stop enforcing production caps on glider trucks after the Center for Biological Diversity, Environmental Defense Fund and Sierra Club filed an emergency motion. The decision means glider truck manufacturers must comply with the production limits until the court makes a final decision. The court also ordered expedited briefing to conclude on July 27.

The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) will not enforce the regulatory requirements for glider trucks, including the annual cap of 300 gliders per manufacturer, reported the New York Times. The move was decided by Scott Pruitt on Friday, July 6th, hours before he resigned from his position of EPA Administrator.

Existing regulatory requirements for glider trucks will not be enforced until the end of 2019. As a result, glider manufacturers would be allowed to produce unlimited numbers of trucks, powered by high-emission diesel engines. Most glider vehicles have been using pre-2002 engines—without EGR, diesel particulate filters (DPF) or SCR catalysts.

While it is unclear what kind of document was signed by Mr Pruitt, it appears that the rule to repeal emission regulation of glider kits that was proposed by the EPA in November 2017 has not been finalized. Rather, the agency would not enforce existing regulations, putting a blind eye on the activities of glider manufacturers.

The EPA had imposed a cap of 300 glider kits per manufacturer per year. In addition, the glider kits provisions of the Phase 2 GHG rule require that progressively cleaner engines, within a 10-year useful life period, be used in glider trucks. These Phase 2 provisions effectively require that all glider engines be equipped with DPFs, which have been used on all US heavy-duty engines since 2007.

According to the New York Times, some 10,000 glider trucks were sold nationally in 2015—about 4% of new heavy-duty truck sales—and production could soon return to that level. If the Phase 2 regulatory provisions are not enforced, the trucks could be powered by antiquated, high emission diesel engines.

In the 2017 proposal, the EPA changed its interpretation of the US Clean Air Act (CAA), so the agency would lack the authority to regulate glider vehicles. The central piece of scientific evidence that supported the proposal was a study by Tennessee Tech, commissioned by the glider industry. The study found that glider engines produced relatively low emission levels. However, a number of flaws were found in the study methodology.

In February 2018, Tennessee Tech University’s president has asked the US EPA to withhold any use or reference to the study. In a letter to the EPA, Tennessee Tech President Philip Oldham said that “knowledgeable experts within the University have questioned the methodology and accuracy of the report”.

EPA own testing showed that gliders—powered by engines without particulate filters or NOx reduction catalysts—are far greater emitters than new diesel trucks.

Source: New York Times