Appeals Court Suspends Loophole for Super-Polluting Diesel Freight Trucks

D.C. Circuit Grants Temporary Stay of EPA Decision That Would Put Lives and Health at Risk

July 18, 2018
Sharyn Stein, 202-572-3396,

   (Washington D.C. – July 18, 2018) The U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit ruled today to suspend an EPA loophole that would allow more super-polluting freight trucks that present a serious and urgent threat to the health of all Americans onto our roads.

Environmental Defense Fund, the Center for Biological Diversity, and Sierra Club filed a motion yesterday asking the court to suspend EPA’s deeply harmful decision to not enforce modern pollution standards for these freight trucks. The pollution standards are current law and were adopted after years of analysis and public comment.

“The court’s decision today is an important step towards protecting the health of all Americans from super-polluting diesel freight trucks,” said EDF President Fred Krupp. “The Trump administration’s decision to allow more of these dirty diesel trucks on our roads was made without any public input and with reckless disregard for the serious public health threats they will cause. We’re pleased the court has suspended this dangerous loophole and we look forward to presenting a strong case to the court about the need to reverse EPA’s flawed decision.”

The D.C. Circuit ruled two-to-one to temporarily suspend implementation of EPA’s decision not to enforce modern pollution standards for super-polluting trucks – a radical decision issued on Scott Pruitt’s final day as EPA Administrator. The court will now consider EDF and its allies’ request for a longer stay pending consideration of the merits of the case. The court’s order provides for emergency briefing through July 27.

Earlier this month, with no public warning, EPA issued an assurance that it would not enforce pollution limits on “glider trucks.”

Glider trucks are heavy-duty freight trucks made by putting old, dirty diesel engines into a new freight truck body. EPA testing found they can emit lethal particulate pollution at up to 450 times the amount from modern engines.

recent EDF-commissioned analysis, submitted to the court yesterday along with EDF and allies’ motion, indicates the additional glider trucks produced during EPA’s two-year non-enforcement policy could result in more than 1,700 premature deaths over the life of those vehicles.

Under America’s Clean Truck Standards, engines used in glider trucks must meet modern pollution standards. Then-EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt tried to repeal pollution standards for glider trucks after a meeting with a major glider manufacturer on May 8, 2017 – the same manufacturer who prominently hosted an event for then-candidate Donald Trump early in his presidential campaign.

Pruitt’s attempt failed after comments underscored his proposal’s flawed legal reasoning, the White House and EPA Science Advisory Board raised concerns about the lack of supporting analysis, and a misconduct investigation was launched into the one study cited in the proposal. Pruitt’s proposal to repeal pollution standards for super-polluting glider trucks also faced extensive public opposition from EDF, the American Lung Association and other health experts, Moms Clean Air Force and other concerned citizens, and freight truck companies that make cleaner engines and would now face unfair competition.

Then, on Pruitt’s last day in office, EPA abruptly announced that it would not enforce the pollution standards for super-polluting glider trucks – even though it had not repealed those clean air standards.

You can find all the legal filings in this case on EDF’s website.

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