Former EPA administrator Scott Pruitt dealt a final blow to clean air initiatives before resigning Friday, implementing a loophole that will allow the production of thousands of diesel freight trucks with high emissions. The decision effectively undoes an Obama administration move that intended to cap production of these trucks at 300 per year, beginning this year.
These “glider trucks” use recycled engines built before new technology reduced the discharge of harmful particulates that pollute the air. These trucks emit as much as 55 times the amount of pollutants as trucks with modern engines, the New York Times reports.
Companies like Fitzgerald Glider Kits lobbied for this loophole, which allows them to ignore the 300-truck cap at least until the end of 2019. Last year, Fitzgerald Glider Kits made 3,000 glider trucks. President Donald Trump met with the CEO of this company when he was campaigning in 2016, and then again after taking office, Vox reports.
The move has been denounced by public health groups, environmental groups, and many in the trucking industry, including the United Parcel Service, the largest truck fleet owner, and Volvo Group, one of the largest truck manufacturers.
“This recent proposal to repeal the glider production limitations is unreasonable, is contrary to the provisions of the Clean Air Act, and undermines the multi-million dollar investments Volvo Group and others have made toward achieving tremendous air quality improvements in this country,” said the Volvo Group in its statement.
Vickie Patton, the general counsel at the Environmental Defense Fund, blames both Pruitt and new EPA administrator Andrew Wheeler for the effect the high pollutants will have on public health.
“Pruitt and Wheeler are creating a loophole for super polluting freight trucks that will fill our children’s lungs with toxic diesel pollution, ignoring public comments from moms and leading businesses across the country,” she told the Times.