Lawmakers ask EPA to move back compliance date for gliders

By Mark Schremmer, Land Line associate editor | 10/15/2018

Saying the regulation could cause “financial ruin” to the glider industry, several members of Congress asked the Environmental Protection Agency to push back the effective date.

In an Oct. 10 letter signed by Rep. Bill Posey, R-Fla., and six others, the lawmakers asked EPA Acting Administrator Andrew Wheeler to move back the compliance date of Greenhouse Gas Phase 2 regulations in respect to gliders, which are remanufactured truck engines in new truck bodies.

“The glider kit and truck industry are facing financial ruin due to the annual arbitrary production cap,” the letter stated. “According to the glider industry, hundreds of American workers in the industry have been laid off in the last three months. The glider kit and truck industry will cease to exist in short order without meaningful relief.”

Under the direction of former administrator Scott Pruitt, the EPA attempted to repeal emissions requirements for glider vehicles last November. 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.

However, the proposal received significant opposition from environmental groups and never became a final rule.

In July, the EPA announced it would delay enforcement of a cap on the number of glider vehicles through 2019. However, the EPA reversed that decision on July 27 after environmentalist groups filed a lawsuit over the decision not to enforce the regulation. Under the current regulation, glider manufacturers are limited to building 300 trucks in 2018. Backing off enforcement would have meant that glider manufacturers could have produced as many gliders as they did in 2017, when they were limited to the number of gliders they built in their biggest production year between 2010 and 2014.

At that time, the EPA said it would “work expeditiously to finalize a solution that provides regulatory relief and prevents any inadvertent economic harm to the glider industry while maintaining important air quality protections.”

The letter criticized the EPA for not following up on its promise.

“It has been over four months since this statement from EPA, and the glider industry is facing financial ruin due to the punitive and arbitrary rule as finalized under the previous administration,” the letter stated.

“President Donald Trump has made the resolution of gliders and administration priority, instructing EPA to resolve the issue last spring. However, the EPA has not provided relief to remedy this arbitrary and punitive rule.”

The compliance extension would provide a five-year delay on the glider kit cap and ban rule.

“This compliance extension will provide the industry with the appropriate time necessary to manage the new rule,” the letter stated. “It also provides EPA with additional time to begin thoughtful and appropriate rulemaking for the industry.”

The Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association has been supportive of the glider industry, contending that gliders give small-business truckers an affordable option when compared to new trucks. Collin Long, OOIDA’s director of government affairs, testified on behalf of the Association’s more than 160,000 members during a House subcommittee hearing on gliders in September.

“Too often, Washington pursues regulations with little regard for the practical implications or understanding of how they will affect our members,” Long told the subcommittee. “The current discussion surrounding glider kits perfectly encapsulates this problem.

“Since 2002, federal emission reduction standards have increased the cost of new trucks between $50,000 and $70,000. As a result, purchasing a new vehicle has become prohibitively expensive for small-business owners. Unfortunately, our members who have purchased new trucks with the latest emission reduction technology, have found them to be incredibly unreliable.”

In addition to Posey, the letter to the EPA was signed by Reps. Ralph Abraham, R-La.; Steve King, R-Iowa; James Comer, R-Ky.; Randy Weber, R-Texas; Brian Babin, R-Texas; and Andy Biggs, R-Ariz.

“We urge the EPA to issue a compliance extension to extend the effective date of the Phase 2 rule as it relates to glider vehicles, glider engines, and glider kits.”

 

 

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