The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's acting chief said late Thursday the government will withdraw a decision to lift strict sales limits on remanufactured heavy duty vehicles known as "glider trucks".
Pruitt's decision to suspend enforcement of the glider rule was based on a discredited study by Tennessee Technological University, funded by Fitzgerald Gliders, the largest manufacturer of glider trucks. The aim was to protect "small" manufacturers of glider kits as defined by the Small Business Administration.
The EPA hasn't yet responded to the court filing and didn't immediately respond to requests for comment.
As an intern with Defend Our Future, a student led environmental advocacy organization, I have seen the impact advocacy groups can make by calling out the corrupt and irresponsible behavior of Pruitt, which lead to the unprecedented public pressure for him to resign as head of the EPA.
"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", Wheeler said.
An EPA spokesperson confirmed Thursday the guidance had been withdrawn.
They were designed as a way to get more life out of engines that were in trucks that had been wrecked, but a new industry sprang up to sell thousands of them as a cheaper alternative to new trucks. Many saw this as a risky loophole in federal emissions rules, so it was addressed in the final GHG rule.
New York Attorney General Barbara Underwood, one of the state officials suing, said the EPA has estimated 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" and 415,000 tons of additional nitrogen oxide emissions.
Meanwhile, some glider kit makers, such as Freightliner, have made a decision to go ahead with their planned phase-down of glider kit production no matter what the final outcome is, saying they are abiding by the spirit of the GHG2 rules.
"This is a huge win for all Americans who care about clean air and human health", Fred Krupp, president of the Environmental Defense Fund, said in a statement. "EPA's effort to create a loophole allowing more of them onto our roads was irresponsible and unsafe", declared Environmental Defense Fund (EDF) president Fred Krupp. "We hope their decision tonight to withdraw that loophole puts a firm and final end to this serious threat to our families' health".
Sen. Tom Carper of DE, the ranking Democrat on the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, called Pruitt's glider order "one of the most egregious - and likely illegal - environmental proposals of his tenure".
Although environmentalist have raised alarm over Wheeler's takeover of the agency-he used to be coal lobbyistand a longtime aide to one of Congress's most notable climate change deniers-activists and politicians who criticized the policy cautiously welcomed this decision.
However, Pruitt's proposed 2017 rule would eliminate all limits on their production and declare them outside of the EPA's regulatory authority.
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