Glider Trucks May Continue To Make It Past EPA Regulations

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Blue semi truck and flat bed trailer on sunny green and gold autumn trees

High-polluting freight trucks may make it past EPA regulations. According to Popular Science, the Environmental Protection Agency has been aiming to regulate a group of freight trucks known as gliders which produce a high amount of pollution. Yet, some gliders may make it past EPA regulations.

Glider trucks are freight trucks that have been rebuilt from old diesel engines that have been salvaged and refitted with new frames.

The EPA reports that these vehicles emit up to 55 times the amount of particle pollution as new, conventional freight trucks. These particle pollutants have been associated with lung disease, heart disease, increased asthma symptoms, and premature death.

Safety standards regarding the emissions of new diesel trucks increased in 2010. Yet, the new regulations didn’t apply to glider trucks due to their older engines. These older engines were only required to meet the emission standards from the year they were built.

Compared to pickup trucks, which made up 18% of all vehicles sold in the U.S. every year, glider trucks only made up 2% of truck sales in 2014.

Despite this small number, the EPA estimates that glider trucks make up an estimated 50% of all air pollution produced by U.S. trucks. This may not be too surprising when considered how often freight trucks are used in the United States.

For instance, more than 3 billion tons of hazardous materials are shipped every year and nearly 17% of all U.S. imported steel comes from Canada.

And although it’s true a video on a landing page can increase a business’ customer conversions by 80%, for those in the manufacturing and import/export industries it’s still largely the customer satisfaction that comes from fast freight truck delivery that increases business success.

The EPA finalized a rule in 2016 to finally close the loophole that allowed glider trucks to continue driving on the road without applying to modern emission standards.

The 2016 rule required glider trucks to meet model year emission standards based on the year the trucks were manufactured and not when the engine was manufactured. The 2016 rule went into effect in January 2018.

According to the The New York Times, the EPA changed course in November 2017 supposedly after Fitzgerald Glider Kits, the largest assembler of glider trucks in North America, lobbied for a repeal to the rule.

A study has been used to repeal the 2016 rule is also currently being analyzed for scientific misconduct.

Despite this, the EPA announced on July 6 that the enforcement of the 2018 cap restricting glider truck production would be suspended. A coalition of 13 state attorneys wrote to the EPA asking the organization to enforce the glider truck quotas, calling the suspension an abdication of the EPA’s statutory responsibilities.

The attorneys also said that the EPA is only legally allowed to use its enforcement to avoid endangering the health of the American public or the environment.

“Here, EPA’s action does not avoid such risks, but instead creates them,” the letter said.

A petition was also taken to the D.C. Circuit Board of Appeals by three environmental groups to suspend the EPA’s “no action assurance” to glider truck manufacturers. The petition for the postponement was granted on Wednesday, July 18.

Many freight truck manufacturers are also pushing for the EPA to end the suspension. Because of the current loophole, glider trucks cost less to produce and aren’t subject to a 12% sales tax.

Paul Billings, senior vice president of public policy at the American Lung Association, says that the EPA’s analysis shows the U.S. could prevent 160 premature deaths due to air pollution by taking 1,000 glider trucks off the road.

“[Without a quota on gliders], you can see that a few years of additional sales of these trucks are going to lead to a lot of premature deaths,” said Billings. “It’s not consistent with the role EPA is supposed to play.”