EPA Withdraws Unlawful and Dangerous Loophole for Super-Polluting Diesel Freight Trucks

Action Follows Court Suspension after Legal Action by 16 States, EDF and Allies

July 27, 2018
Sharyn Stein, 202-572-3396, sstein@edf.org

(Washington D.C. – July 26, 2018) Tonight the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency withdrew an unlawful loophole that would allow more super-polluting freight trucks onto our roads – trucks that present a serious and urgent threat to the health of all Americans.  

“This is a huge win for all Americans who care about clean air and human health,” said EDF president Fred Krupp. “These super-polluting diesel freight trucks fill our lungs with a toxic stew of pollution. EPA’s effort to create a loophole allowing more of them onto our roads was irresponsible and dangerous. We hope their decision tonight to withdraw that loophole puts a firm and final end to this serious threat to our families’ health.”

Tonight’s EPA announcement follows an order by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit that suspended EPA’s action pending emergency briefing. The D.C. Circuit ruled two-to-one last week to suspend implementation of EPA’s decision not to enforce modern pollution standards for super-polluting trucks. EDF, the Center for Biological Diversity and Sierra Club had filed a motion seeking that suspension. EPA’s withdrawal also follows legal action by a broad coalition of 16 state Attorneys General who oppose EPA’s radical and harmful non-enforcement policy.

The legal battle began earlier this month when, 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 that are assembled 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, Clean Air Act-compliant engines.

recent EDF-commissioned analysis, submitted to the court as part of the legal filings 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.

Tonight, EPA withdrew that non-enforcement policy.

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

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