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Emergency Lawsuit Challenges EPA’s Super-polluter Truck Loophole

Measure from Pruitt’s last day permits production of thousands of dirty diesels

WASHINGTON - The Center for Biological Diversity, Environmental Defense Fund and Sierra Club today filed an emergency motion for a stay or summary reversal of the Environmental Protection Agency’s decision to stop enforcing production caps on super-polluting diesel “glider” trucks.

Today’s filing in the Circuit Court for the District of Columbia challenges a decision that was made on the last night of former EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt’s tenure at the EPA and then left in place by acting EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler despite requests to rescind it.

“People will die because of Pruitt’s parting gift of thousands more super-dirty trucks on our roads spewing toxic pollution into the air we must breathe,” said Vera Pardee, senior counsel at the Center for Biological Diversity’s Climate Law Institute. “If Wheeler hopes to distance himself from Pruitt’s corrupt brand of loyalty to polluters, he’s off to a horrific start.”

A “glider” is a diesel freight truck assembled by installing a used engine and powertrain in a new truck body. Because the engines were built to meet outdated pollution standards, the EPA estimates that glider trucks emit 20 to 40 times more smog-forming nitrogen oxide and soot-causing particulate matter than new trucks on the market.

The current law limits glider manufacturers to producing no more than 300 super-polluting glider vehicles per year, but they can produce unlimited glider trucks if they use engines that meet current emission standards.

In two terse July 6 memos not released until days later, the agency announced that glider manufacturers and their suppliers can ignore the law and build thousands more super-polluting trucks through 2019, confident that the EPA will not hold them accountable. Pruitt’s decision was made without prior notice or public comment period.

Using the EPA’s own conservative estimates, every year of uncapped glider production could cause up to 1,600 premature deaths from fine particulate matter emissions alone.

“The vast majority of the trucking industry has invested in cleaner freight trucks and doesn’t want the Trump administration to prop up these zombie diesel rigs,” Pardee said. “This loophole is a special giveaway to the dirtiest and most irresponsible fraction of truck manufacturers. Unless the court reverses it, this decision will harm our health and planet for decades to come.”


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At the Center for Biological Diversity, we believe that the welfare of human beings is deeply linked to nature - to the existence in our world of a vast diversity of wild animals and plants. Because diversity has intrinsic value, and because its loss impoverishes society, we work to secure a future for all species, great and small, hovering on the brink of extinction. We do so through science, law, and creative media, with a focus on protecting the lands, waters, and climate that species need to survive.

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