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The EPA on Friday lifted a cap on the manufacturing of "glider trucks," which use old engines that do not meet current emissions standards. (Photo: David McNew/Getty Images)

In Pruitt's Last Giveaway to Polluters—and Wheeler's First as Agency Chief—EPA Lifts Cap on 'Super Polluting' Trucks

"This reckless, illegal act—as Scott Pruitt exits EPA—could not have been committed without the support of incoming EPA head, Andy Wheeler."

Julia Conley

Newly-appointed acting Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) administrator Andrew Wheeler has wasted no time in rolling back emissions rules, green groups said Saturday, as outgoing agency chief Scott Pruitt undoubtedly worked with his replacement to give one last handout to corporate polluters in his last hours on the job on Friday.

Before leaving the agency amid at least 14 ethics investigations, and after spending a year undermining the EPA's core mission, Pruitt lifted a cap on the manufacturing of trucks that do not meet modern emissions standards, and moved to completely repeal the limits on such vehicles.

Thanks to requirements introduced in 2016, truck manufacturers had previously been limited to making only 300 "glider trucks," which are made by fitting modern truck bodies with older engines that do not meet emissions requirements.

The models are sought after by trucking companies looking to evade environmental protection rules because they are less expensive to run—and derided by health experts and green groups.

According to one EPA study, wrote the American Lung Association in a report called "Six Threats to the Nation's Air Quality," glider trucks "produced emissions up to 450 times higher than a comparable 2014 or 2015 model year truck." 

"Pruitt and Wheeler are creating a loophole for super polluting freight trucks that will fill our children's lungs with toxic diesel pollution, ignoring public comments from moms and leading businesses across the country," Vickie Patton, general counsel for the Environmental Defense Fund, told the New York Times.

As Pruitt considered opening the loophole for glider truck manufacturers earlier this year, national health groups including the Allergy and Asthma Foundation of American and the American Lung Association signed a letter imploring the EPA chief to protect the public from the pollution-causing vehicles.

"These standards will not only help to mitigate climate change and its associated health risks, but will also significantly reduce emissions of toxic and carcinogenic air pollutants, benefiting public health in communities across the country," wrote the groups. "As public health groups and medical societies, we are keenly aware of the harmful health effects of these diesel combustion air pollutants, as well as the dangers that climate change already poses to human health. We call on you to protect our patients and the public from these health harms."

Just as the loophole was approved, Wheeler spoke with the Washington Post about his plans for the EPA, noting that he would "work to implement the president's agenda" as Pruitt has—further confirming Trump opponents' fears.

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Markey, Bowman Join Climate Coalition in Urging SCOTUS Expansion

"We cannot sit idly by," said Markey, "as extremists on the Supreme Court eviscerate the authorities that the government has had for decades to combat climate change and reduce pollution."

Brett Wilkins ·

Ocasio-Cortez Says US 'Witnessing a Judicial Coup in Process'

"It is our duty to check the Court's gross overreach of power in violating people's inalienable rights and seizing for itself the powers of Congress and the president."

Brett Wilkins ·

Critics Say Biden Drilling Bonanza 'Won't Lower Gas Prices' But 'Will Worsen Climate Crisis'

"President Biden's massive public lands giveaway in the face of utter climate catastrophe is just the latest sign that his climate commitments are mere rhetoric," said one campaigner.

Kenny Stancil ·

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"Buckle up," implores one prominent legal scholar. "An extreme decision here could fundamentally alter the balance of power in setting election rules in the states and provide a path for great threats to elections."

Brett Wilkins ·

Biden Urged to Take Emergency Action After 'Disastrous' Climate Ruling by Supreme Court

"The catastrophic impact of this decision cannot be understated," said Rep. Pramila Jayapal, but "we cannot accept defeat."

Kenny Stancil ·

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