Four lawmakers request investigation into alleged collusion regarding EPA's glider rule

By Mark Schremmer, Land Line associate editor | Friday, June 22, 2018

In a letter to the Environmental Protection Agency’s inspector general, four members of Congress requested an investigation into whether members of the EPA colluded with Volvo lobbyists in an attempt to influence the agency to prohibit the use of glider kits.

The letter from Bill Posey, R-Fla.; Brian Babin, R-Texas; James Comer, R-Ky.; and Steve King, R-Iowa, was sent on June 21 to EPA Inspector General Arthur Elkins Jr.

“It is our understanding that a major original equipment manufacturer and its affiliates lobbied the EPA to secure a prohibition on glider trucks in the (greenhouse gas) Phase 2 rule in 2016,” the letter stated. “When EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt repealed the current glider rule, career employees at the EPA communicated with (Volvo) with the intent of eliminating the glider industry. In our opinion, EPA’s conduct undermines the current administration’s policies and prevents a repeal of the rule.

“(Volvo) proposed testing the emissions of gliders in 2017. This test was performed unbeknownst to Administrator Pruitt. Over a three-month period, (Volvo) allegedly located and purchased glider truckers for the EPA to test. The EPA would purportedly run the emissions testing according to specifications provided by (Volvo). We have serious concerns about these testing methods. At the very least, the EPA’s testing methods were highly questionable and should not be recognized.”

The letter also suggests that emails between the EPA and Volvo may have been deleted.

In November, the EPA proposed a rule to repeal emissions requirements for glider vehicles, glider engines, and glider kits. The EPA said the proposal was based on an interpretation of the Clean Air Act under which “glider kits would not be treated as incomplete new motor vehicles.” Under the proposed interpretation, EPA would lack the authority to regulate the gliders.

Simply put, the EPA said that gliders aren’t new trucks and that they shouldn’t be regulated like new trucks.

The comment period on the proposed repeal ended Jan. 5. The EPA received more than 24,000 comments. 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.

The Owner-Operators Independent Drivers Association commented in favor of the repeal, saying that glider kits offer small-business truck drivers a more affordable and reliable alternative to increasingly expensive new vehicles.

The repeal still has yet to become a final rule.

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