EPA audit says agency’s glider testing complied with standard practices

August 2, 2019

Mark Schremmer

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The Environmental Protection Agency’s selection and testing of glider vehicles in 2017 followed standard practices, the Office of Inspector General concluded in a report released earlier this week. However, the report also found that the EPA “did not fully adhere to its delegation of authority related to the acceptance of donated property under the Clean Air Act.”

EPA’s Office of Inspector General conducted an audit into the agency’s 2017 testing, which concluded that glider vehicles had emissions 40 or 50 times higher than new trucks.

The audit started in response to a letter in June 2018 from four lawmakers questioning if EPA colluded with Volvo lobbyists in an attempt to influence the agency to prohibit the use of glider kits.

“(Volvo) proposed testing the emissions of gliders in 2017,” the lawmakers wrote. “This test was performed unbeknownst to (then-EPA Administrator Scott) Pruitt. Over a three-month period, (Volvo) allegedly located and purchased glider trucks for the EPA to test. The EPA would purportedly run the emissions testing according to specifications provided by (Volvo). We have serious concerns about these testing methods. At the very least, the EPA’s testing methods were highly questionable and should not be recognized.”

OIG said the testing complied with EPA standard practices.

“We confirmed that EPA employees obtained approval to conduct glider vehicle testing and that EPA leadership received an August 2017 briefing on the potential for a glider vehicle test program before EPA career staff initiated the program,” the report stated. “We found that EPA employees followed normal procedures in submitting the November 2017 glider vehicle test report to a public rulemaking docket.”

However, OIG also found that the proper chain of command wasn’t followed in relation to the donation of the vehicles.

“The delegation of authority establishes limitations that impede the EPA’s ability to practically implement its donation acceptance authority,” the report stated. “We also found that more direction on the solicitation and acceptance of donations would make the process more transparent, address concerns over preferential treatment and potentially give the EPA more options to carry out its research objectives.”

In November 2017, the EPA proposed to repeal emission requirements for glider vehicles, glider engines and glider kits. The proposal was met with opposition from environmentalist groups and never became a final rule.

Mark Schremmer

Mark Schremmer, associate editor, joined Land Line in 2015. An award-winning journalist and former assistant news editor at The Topeka Capital-Journal, he brings fresh ideas, solid reporting skills, and nearly two decades of journalism experience to our staff.