Federal Court Stops EPA From Easing Rules on Truck Pollution

Tom Johnson | July 19, 2018 | Energy & Environment
Temporary stay blocks agency from lifting limits on glider trucks, whose rebuilt engines can spew 40 times more pollution than today’s engines

diesel exhaust
A federal appeals court yesterday ordered the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to continue enforcing rules aimed at limiting pollution from certain diesel trucks.

A temporary stay was granted by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit in a lawsuit brought by environmental groups directing the EPA to enforce so-called glider truck requirements while the case is litigated.

The ruling marked a victory for the Sierra Club, Environmental Defense Fund, and Center for Biological Diversity, which brought the suit following a decision by the agency to cease enforcing the rules.

The regulation, dubbed the glider-truck rule, limited how many rebuilt engines could be put in new truck bodies. The older engines produce as much as 40 times the pollution of modern engines, according to environmentalists.

“Andrew Wheeler’s tenure as EPA chief is picking up where Scott Pruitt’s left off,’’ said Joanne Spalding, chief counsel for the Sierra Club. “Wheeler and Pruitt flagrantly disregarded the established laws and rulemaking processes when EPA promised the manufacturers of these super-polluting trucks that it would not enforce its standards to limit air pollution.’’

The move to ease enforcement of the rule occurred on Pruitt’s final day in office, before he was forced to resign in the wake of numerous ethics scandals.

The rule, put in place by the Obama administration, imposes an annual cap on glider trucks of 300 per manufacturer. If not enforced, as many as 10,000 such trucks could have been put on the road each year, critics say.

“Today is a victory in our battle for clean air and against Trump’s environmental rollbacks,’’ said Jeff Tittel, director of the New Jersey Sierra Club. “Trucks are one of the biggest sources of air pollution in our state.’’

The move to relax the rule was opposed by two earlier EPA administrators, Carol Browner, and former New Jersey Gov. Christine Todd Whitman, who said it could have profound negative health impacts on people in a letter to the agency.