On late Thursday night, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) withdrew its decision to stop enforcing production caps on “super-polluting” diesel glider trucks, according to the Center for Biological Diversity, Environmental Defense Fund and Sierra Club.
“The utter lawlessness of Scott Pruitt’s gambit to foul our air with thousands more ultra-dirty trucks was obvious to all,” says Vera Pardee, senior counsel at the Center for Biological Diversity’s Climate Law Institute. “But Andrew Wheeler didn’t stop Pruitt’s last-gasp mayhem until the court stayed his hand.”
The withdrawal notice, signed by Acting Administrator Andrew Wheeler, reverses former EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt’s last-day-on-the job decision to allow companies to ignore the cap, the groups say. Before filing the recent lawsuit, the groups had requested that Wheeler rescind Pruitt’s decision but received no response. Thursday’s notice came just days before the EPA’s deadline to defend its non-enforcement decision in court.
A “glider” is a diesel freight truck assembled by installing a used engine and powertrain in a new truck body, the groups explain. Because their engines were built under outdated pollution standards, the EPA estimates that glider trucks emit 20 to 40 times more smog-forming nitrogen oxide and soot-causing particulate matter than new trucks on the market.
The current law limits glider manufacturers to producing no more than 300 super-polluting glider vehicles per year, but the companies are free to produce unlimited glider trucks as long as they use engines meeting current emission standards, according to the groups. However, Pruitt’s proposed 2017 rule would eliminate all limits on their production and declare them outside of the EPA’s regulatory authority.
“Wheeler still hasn’t withdrawn Pruitt’s unconscionable proposal to eliminate all pollution limits for these zombie trucks,” Pardee adds. “Until he does, he and his predecessor are birds of a feather.”