EDF, Allies Ask Court for Emergency Ruling to Block EPA’s Unlawful Loophole for Super-Polluting Freight Trucks

Groups File with D.C. Circuit to Block EPA Decision that Would Put Lives and Health at Risk

July 17, 2018
Sharyn Stein, 202-572-3396, sstein@edf.org

 (Washington D.C. – July 17, 2018) Environmental Defense Fund (EDF), the Center for Biological Diversity, and Sierra Club are asking the court to stop the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) from allowing more super-polluting freight trucks on America’s roads.

The groups filed a motion for immediate reversal or a stay of EPA’s deeply harmful decision with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit today.

“Giving super-polluting freight trucks a free pass to pollute will put Americans’ health and lives at risk,” said EDF Senior Attorney Martha Roberts. “Acting EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler is continuing Scott Pruitt’s decision to short-change public health without any public input or regard for the law. We urge the court to set aside this this flawed decision.”

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.

A recent EDF-commissioned analysis, submitted to the court today along with the 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 announced that it would not enforce the pollution standards for super-polluting glider trucks – even though it had not repealed those standards.

EDF and its allies have formally asked Acting EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler to withdraw the non-enforcement decision, as has a coalition of 13 states. EDF has also filed a Freedom of Information Act request for records related to it.Today, EDF and its allies filed a motion asking the D.C. Circuit to set aside or stay this harmful and unlawful decision. The groups also submitted extensive scientific and technical declarations that assess the health harms associated with diesel pollution and the development and viability of modern pollution controls, along with declarations from EDF members and others about the immediate and severe health consequences from EPA’s decision not to enforce these public safeguards. (You can read the declarations here, here and here).  

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