OOIDA sends letter to environment committee in support of glider kit proposal

January 25, 2018

Mark Schremmer

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The Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association demonstrated its support for the Environmental Protection Agency’s plan to repeal emission requirements for glider kits through a letter to the Committee on Environment and Public Works on Thursday, Jan. 25.

In a summary of the rule, the repeal of the Phase 2 emissions standards for glider kits is based on a proposed interpretation of the Clean Air Act under which glider vehicles would be found not to constitute “new motor vehicles,” glider engines would be found not to constitute “new motor vehicles,” and glider kits would not be treated as “incomplete” new motor vehicles.

Under this proposed interpretation, the EPA would lack the authority to regulate glider vehicles, glider engines, and glider kits.

“The EPA’s initial decision to classify glider kits, glider vehicles and glider engines as ‘new motor vehicles’ under the Clean Air Act would irreparably damage a truck manufacturing industry that has become increasingly popular in recent years,” OOIDA said in the letter signed by Todd Spencer, acting president and CEO. “Since 2002, federal environmental regulations alone have increased the cost of a new truck between $50,000 and $70,000, as costly components and systems have been mandated. Given their unique assembly, glider kit prices are typically 25 to 30 percent less than a new truck, allowing owner-operators, who often work on the slimmest of margins, to save tens of thousands of dollars on their purchase.”

The comment period on the EPA’s proposed rule ended Jan. 5. The EPA received more than 24,000 comments. More than 3,000 of the comments were unique, while about 21,000 were duplicate form letters from various organizations. Many truck drivers and members of the glider kit industry spoke favorably of the rule, while many environmental groups and the American Trucking Associations opposed the repeal.

Scott Pruitt, administrator of the EPA, is expected to deliver testimony to the Committee on Environment and Public Works next week. Questions regarding the repeal of the Phase 2 emissions requirements for glider kits are likely.

“For many small business truckers, glider kits offer a more affordable and reliable alternative to increasingly expensive new vehicles,” OOIDA wrote. “Their regulation under Phase 2 would effectively destroy the American glider kit industry, eliminating the opportunity for our members to continue purchasing the vehicles that best fit their unique needs.”

Many owner-operators and members of the glider kit industry were opposed to glider kits being included in the Phase 2 requirements. In a 2016 survey conducted by OOIDA, 14 percent of owner-operators said they would be buying a glider kit as their next truck. That was 2 percent more than those who were planning on buying new.

In August, Pruitt announced that the agency would “revisit” provisions of the upcoming Phase 2 of the greenhouse gas regulations.

Those opposing the repeal cited environmental concerns. However, OOIDA pointed to a study by Tennessee Tech University as evidence that glider kits are environmentally friendly.

The study included eight trucks with remanufactured engines and five with original equipment manufacturer “certified” engines. Each of the low-mileage vehicles was evaluated for fuel efficiency, carbon monoxide, particulate matter emissions and nitrogen oxide.

“Ultimately, researchers discovered remanufactured 2002-07 engines performed as well and in some cases outperformed their newer counterparts in emissions reductions,” OOIDA wrote. “This environmental benefit is compounded when considering glider kits utilize many remanufactured components, resulting in the reuse of approximately 4,000 pounds of cast steel per unit.”

OOIDA said it applauds Pruitt’s efforts to better understand how the regulation of glider kits will affect small business truckers.

“Exempting these vehicles from Phase 2 regulation will continue to provide owner-operators affordable and reliable options when purchasing new or used trucks,” OOIDA wrote. “While glider kits provide appealing cost savings for drivers, they are also reliable, efficient, and meet all of the environmental and safety standards necessary for operation. We encourage the EPA to move forward with this important exemption and encourage members of the committee to support these efforts.”

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Mark Schremmer, senior 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 more than two decades of journalism experience to our staff.