Quantcast

EPA Reverses Pruitt’s Last Act on Glider Trucks After States and Green Groups Sue

Politics

Following legal pressure from environmental groups and a number of states, acting U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) head Andrew Wheeler issued a memo Thursday reversing Scott Pruitt's last act suspending limits on the manufacture and sale of super-polluting glider trucks.


A federal appeals court issued a temporary stay of the suspension July 18, following a suit brought by the Environmental Defense Fund, the Sierra Club and the Center for Biological Diversity. One day later, 16 states and the District of Columbia also filed suits against the glider truck rule suspension, Reuters reported.

"The utter lawlessness of Scott Pruitt's gambit to foul our air with thousands of extra ultra-dirty trucks was obvious to all," senior counsel at the Center for Biological Diversity's Climate Law Institute Vera Pardee said in an email. "Unfortunately, Andrew Wheeler didn't stop Pruitt's last-gasp mayhem until the court stayed his hand. And he still has not withdrawn Pruitt's 2017 proposal to eliminate all pollution limits for these zombie trucks. Until he does, he and his predecessor are birds of a feather."

The Obama administration had limited the sale of glider trucks—new truck bodies using older engines that can pollute up to 55 times as much as newer ones—to 300 per manufacturer per year.

On July 6, Pruitt wrote a memo issuing a "No Action Assurance" regarding the enforcement of that rule until July 6, 2019 or until the agency handed down a final rule on glider trucks that was more lenient than the Obama administration decision.

Wheeler initially refused requests by green groups to reverse Pruitt's reversal, but seems to have come around on legal grounds.

"[EPA Office of and Compliance Assurance] OECA guidance is clear that a no action assurance should be issued only in an 'extremely unusual' case when the no action assurance is necessary to serve the public interest and only when no other mechanism can adequately address that interest," Wheeler wrote in Thursday's memo.

He further wrote that, after consulting with EPA agencies and looking over precedent, "I have concluded that the application of current regulations to the glider industry does not represent the kind of extremely unusual circumstances that support the EPA's exercise of enforcement discretion."

However, that doesn't mean the EPA has given up on making life easier for glider truck manufacturers. Thursday's memo concluded with a promise to speed the process for creating a new rule.

Opponents of any reversal to glider truck limits cite concerns over the health impacts of the trucks' elevated air pollution levels.

One of the state officials who had joined the suit against the "No Action" rule, New York Attorney General Barbara Underwood, told Reuters that the EPA had previously calculated that adding 10,000 glider trucks "with non-compliant engines onto our roads in a single year could result in up to 1,600 premature deaths."

EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

DESIREE MARTIN / AFP / Getty Images

Wildfires raging on Gran Canaria, the second most populous of Spain's Canary Islands, have forced around 9,000 people to evacuate.

Read More Show Less
Wolves in Mount Rainier, Washington. Ron Reznick / VW Pics / Universal Images Group via Getty Images

The last four members of an embattled wolf pack were killed in Washington State Friday, hours before the court order that could have saved them.

Read More Show Less
Sponsored
Plateau Creek near De Beque, Colorado, where land has been leased for oil and gas production. Helen H. Richardson / The Denver Post / Getty Images

By Randi Spivak

Slashing two national monuments in Utah may have received the most attention, but Trump's Interior Department and U.S. Forest Service have been quietly, systematically ceding control of America's public lands to fossil fuel, mining, timber and livestock interests since the day he took office.

Read More Show Less
Aerial view of lava flows from the eruption of volcano Kilauea on Hawaii, May 2018. Frizi / iStock / Getty Images

Hawaii's Kilauea volcano could be gearing up for an eruption after a pond of water was discovered inside its summit crater for the first time in recorded history, according to the AP.

Read More Show Less
Global SO2 Emission Hotspot Database / Greenpeace

A new report by Greenpeace International pinpointed the world's worst sources of sulfur dioxide pollution, an irritant gas that harms human health. India has seized the top spot from Russia and China, contributing nearly 15 percent of global sulfur dioxide emissions.

Read More Show Less
Sponsored
The huge surge this year in Amazon deforestation is leading some European countries to think twice about donations to the Amazon Fund. LeoFFreitas / Moment / Getty Images

By Sue Branford and Thais Borges

Ola Elvestrun, Norway's environment minister, announced Thursday that it is freezing its contributions to the Amazon Fund, and will no longer be transferring €300 million ($33.2 million) to Brazil. In a press release, the Norwegian embassy in Brazil stated:

Read More Show Less
Gina Lopez, the Philippine secretary of the environment, at a meeting with residents affected by a mine tailing disaster. Keith Schneider

Gina Lopez, a former Philippine environment secretary, philanthropist and eco-warrior, died on Aug. 19 from brain cancer. She was 65.

Read More Show Less
Trump speaks to contractors at the Shell Chemicals Petrochemical Complex on Aug. 13 in Monaca, Pennsylvania. Jeff Swensen / Getty Images

Thousands of union members at a multibillion dollar petrochemical plant outside of Pittsburgh were given a choice last week: Stand and wait for a speech by Donald Trump or take the day off without pay.

Read More Show Less