Rep. Gianforte requests investigation into possible collusion between EPA, Volvo

By Mark Schremmer, Land Line associate editor | Tuesday, June 26, 2018

Another lawmaker is asking the Environmental Protection Agency to look into whether or not the agency colluded with Volvo lobbyists in an attempt to influence the agency to prohibit the use of glider kits.

Rep. Greg Gianforte, R-Mont, chairman of the Subcommittee on the Interior, Energy, and Environment, sent a letter on June 21 to EPA Inspector General Arthur Elkins Jr. requesting an investigation. Last week, Land Line reported that Reps. Bill Posey, R-Fla.; Brian Babin, R-Texas; James Comer, R-Ky.; and Steve King, R-Iowa, sent a letter to the EPA, asking for an investigation into the same matter.

The lawmakers are calling into question documents that show communication between the EPA and Volvo representatives. Volvo allegedly purchased gliders for the EPA to perform emissions testing.

“On Nov. 20, 2017, the EPA employees produced a report on the emissions testing performed on the Volvo-provided gilders,” Gianforte wrote to the EPA. “Their report concluded the tested glider vehicles produced higher pollutant emissions than conventionally manufactured trucks. The report also stated when the lab received the first glider tested, its check engine light was illuminated. The emails obtained by the committee show the Volvo employee arranged to provide the glider to the EPA, but do not definitively show whether Volvo or the EPA employees intentionally used a malfunctioning vehicle in order to influence the outcome of the emissions testing.”

Gianforte also said that his committee obtained information that shows some EPA employees submitted the test results to the public rulemaking docket without the knowledge or approval of EPA leadership.

Earlier 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.

The logic behind the EPA’s proposed repeal was that that gliders aren’t new trucks, so 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.

“Collaboration between agency employees and a regulated entity to potentially sway the outcome of National Vehicle and Fuel Emissions Laboratory tests in order to disadvantage a competitor compromises the EPA’s integrity and allows a handful of agency staff and one company the opportunity to manipulate the regulatory process,” Gianforte wrote. “In light of this potentially improper coordination between EPA staff and a third party, I ask that you investigate whether the selection, provision and testing of glider vehicles … violated any policies or procedures.”

 

 

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