Pruitt’s departure distracts from reasoning behind glider proposal

July 6, 2018

Mark Schremmer

|

It was announced Thursday, July 5, that Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt resigned amid allegations of multiple ethics scandals.

Andrew Wheeler will serve as the EPA’s administrator while President Donald Trump seeks a successor.

For those in trucking, the question becomes how this will affect the EPA’s proposal to repeal emissions requirements for gliders.

This, along with many other decisions made by the EPA during Pruitt’s tenure, has been a hot-button issue. The EPA received more than 24,000 comments on the proposed repeal. Many truckers spoke favorably of the rule, while many environmental groups and the American Trucking Associations opposed the repeal.

Since the EPA proposed the change in November, the controversy surrounding the decision has only grown.

In February, the president of Tennessee Tech launched an investigation into the university’s study that concluded glider emissions were at or below the levels of new trucks after some experts “questioned the methodology and accuracy of the report.”

More recently, several lawmakers have asked the EPA to investigate whether or not the agency colluded with Volvo lobbyists in an attempt to influence the agency to prohibit the use of gliders.

Whether it’s the ethics allegations against Pruitt or the investigations into how emissions studies were conducted, it is all distracting from the EPA’s reasoning behind the proposal to repeal emissions requirements for gliders.

The proposed rule doesn’t cite a study for its reason to remove the requirements. Instead, the reasoning was extremely simplistic. The EPA said glider vehicles should not be defined as new vehicles. Based on that interpretation, EPA would lack authority to regulate glider vehicles, glider engines and glider kits.

“EPA is proposing to interpret ‘“new motor vehicle’” … as not including glider vehicles,” the proposed rule stated. “This is a reasonable interpretation – and commonsense would agree – insofar as it takes account of the reality that significant elements of a glider vehicle (including the engine and transmission) are previously owned components.”

That’s it in a nutshell. Everything else is just background noise.

The Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs estimated in mid-May the repeal would become a final rule in May 2018. However, the proposal has seen no movement.

When a decision is made, hopefully it will be based on EPA’s proposed interpretation that gliders aren’t new vehicles rather than all of the distractions surrounding Pruitt and the agency.

Mark Schremmer

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.