House committee asks acting EPA chief for information regarding possible collusion
July 16, 2018
Several members of the House committee on Science, Space, and Technology have requested information regarding allegations that employees of the EPA colluded to prohibit the user of glider kits.
In a letter dated July 12, the members of the committee asked EPA acting administrator Andrew Wheeler to provide details about interactions between agency employees and Volvo lobbyists. The letter was signed by Committee Chairman Lamar Smith and several others.
“Documents obtained by the Committee show an apparent concerted effort between EPA staff at the National Vehicle and Fuel Emissions Laboratory and representatives from the Volvo Group and the Truck and Engine Manufacturers Association to target and test gliders assembled by Fitzgerald Glider Kits, the largest glider assembler in the United States,” the letter stated. “Volvo, a member of EMA and competitor of Fitzgerald, supported the 2016 rule that increased the regulation of gliders.”
According to an email exchange, a representative from Volvo initiated contact with EPA employees in September 2017, asking the lab to conduct a test program in which Volvo “would provide the test articles.”
“The ensuing exchange appears to show an overt attempt by a regulated entity to shape a scientific study at EPA to achieve a specific, predetermined outcome,” the letter stated. “In one email, the representative from Volvo lays out the ‘ideal’ test program for the National Vehicle and Fuel Emissions Laboratory, listing specifically the test articles to use and the schedule by which the test program should be conducted. Volvo’s recommendations were specific to the point where it suggested to the National Vehicle and Fuel Emissions Laboratory multiple times to use ‘Fitzgerald rebuilds’ and to ‘stay away from Cummins,’ another EMA member.”
The lawmakers said it doesn’t appear that the people conducting the test ever reached out to Fitzgerald or any other glider manufacturer.
“These documents raise serious questions as to the objectivity and legitimacy of the study,” the letter said.
The members of the committee requested a briefing on the matter by July 26. They also asked to receive all documents and communication relating to the EPA’s involvement in the study by July 26.
Wheeler recently became the EPA’s acting administrator after Scott Pruitt announced his resignation on July 5.
In November 2017, the Pruitt proposed to repeal emission requirements for glider vehicles, glider engines, and glider kits. The proposal has yet to become a final rule.
Earlier this month, the EPA said it will exercise “enforcement discretion” on glider manufacturers through 2019 to reduce the impact on the industry while the agency evaluates its proposal to repeal certain emission requirements for gliders.