The Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association showed support for the Environmental Protection Agency’s proposed rule to repeal emissions requirements for glider kits by filing official comments on Friday, Jan. 5.
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 agency’s decision to no longer classify glider vehicles and glider kits as ‘new motor vehicles’ and ‘new motor vehicle engines,’ provides truckers with affordable and reliable vehicle choices when they are purchasing either new or used trucks,” the Association wrote in comments signed by OOIDA Executive Vice President Todd Spencer. “OOIDA endorses the agency’s regulatory interpretation of the Clean Air Act.
“OOIDA supports the EPA’s willingness to consider all options, including ‘inherent authority to reconsider, revise or repeal past decisions to the extent permitted by law, so long as the agency provides a reasoned explanation’ to examine whether the authority exists to define glider kits as new vehicles. Further, we appreciate the agency’s approach to better understand the rule’s impact on truckers, the consumers of glider kits, and gather information from relevant industry stakeholders throughout the public comment period.”
The inclusion of glider kits created opposition as many owner-operators have turned to the customizable, less expensive option when purchasing a “new” truck. In a 2016 survey conducted by the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association, 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.
“Since 2002, federal emission reduction standards have increased the cost of a new truck between $50,000 and $70,000 as additional environmental components and systems have become required,” OOIDA wrote. “Given their unique assembly, glider kit prices are typically 25 (percent) to 30 percent less than a new truck, allowing independent owner-operators to save tens of thousands of dollars on their purchase, enabling them to devote limited resources to other business priorities.
“Further, many glider kits operators are familiar with their engines and can perform routine maintenance independently, which is not feasible for newer trucks that incorporate more complex technology and components. Servicing new trucks at a dealership typically requires hundreds of dollars per hour to inspect the engine, including routine work.”
Many truck drivers and motor carriers echoed OOIDA’s sentiment.
“We are one of the many small companies who will be very negatively impacted by any further regulations restricting glider trucks,” Dinah M. Cruse wrote in comments to the EPA. “We currently are running 100 glider trucks, employing 140 people and would absolutely be out of business had we not purchased glider trucks.
“Please know that failing to repeal the Phase 2 (greenhouse gas) regulations will be devastating to our company and many others such as ours, as well as millions of independent owner-operators. Please do the right thing for our industry and our country by repealing these overly restricting and burdensome regulations allowing the glider kit industry to thrive, in turn allowing those who purchase them to be successful and productive.”
The EPA received more than 24,000 comments regarding the proposed rule. More than 3,000 of the comments were unique, while about 21,000 were duplicate form letters from various organizations.
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.
“The TTU study concluded that while both new and remanufactured vehicles experienced decline fuel efficiency with increased mileage, glider kit engines would emit less than 12 percent of the total nitrogen oxide and particulate matter emissions for all Class 8 heavy-duty vehicles,” OOIDA wrote. “The environmental benefit is compounded when you consider that glider kits utilize remanufactured components, resulting in the reuse of approximately 4,000 pounds of cast steel, with engine assembly accounting for 3,000 pounds of recycled cast steel.”
For these reasons, OOIDA said it supports the EPA’s proposed rule.
“While glider kits provide appealing cost savings for drivers, they also meet all of the required environmental and safety standards necessary for operation as shown by recent studies,” OOIDA wrote. “We encourage EPA to move forward with the repeal of emissions requirements for glider vehicles, glider engines, and glider kits.”
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