Photo: Fitzgerald Glider Kits

EPA's reversal on glider kits challenged, blocked in court

July 19, 2018
Environmental groups warn of 'massive pre-buys'; appeals court temporarily blocks EPA's sidestep of cap on gliders

Three environmental groups have asked an appeals court to rule that the Environmental Protection Agency's decision to lift a cap on the sale of glider kits was unlawful, or issue a stay pending a further review. In response, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit yesterday issued a temporary injunction blocking EPA's move not to enforce the glider cap. 

The EPA earlier this month altered a provision included in the Phase 2 greenhouse gas regulations that capped the sale of glider kits to 300 per manufacturer each year. Scott Pruitt approved the change during his final day as the agency's administrator. EPA has said it will not enforce any cap on gliders through at least the end of 2019.

The Environmental Defense Fund, Center for Biological Diversity, and the Sierra Club filed the challenge on July 17 with the appeals court.

The groups claimed that EPA's decision "encourages the production and sale of thousands of super-polluting, heavy-duty diesel freight trucks in violation of the agency's own Clean Air Act regulations." The reversal, they argued, "threatens to undermine decades of progress in combating diesel-exhaust pollution."

Trucks using glider kits combine a new truck chassis with older engine and transmission. While often used to rebuild vehicles after accidents, they can also be used to avoid emissions regulations.

In the court filing, the environmental groups urged the court for a speedy decision, cautioning that a lengthy delay raises the chances of "massive pre-buys" of trucks utilizing gliders kits. The court obliged with its quick response. 

The groups had noted that glider manufacturers did not challenge the GHG rule, and that it was only after executives with Fitzgerald Glider Kits met directly Pruitt that movement for any change began.

The added that the rule change would "open the door for every federal agency simply to ignore whichever laws do not conform to its current policy preferences."

At a media event in California, Daimler Trucks North America said it will follow "the intent of the 2018 glider restrictions, regardless of whether the EPA modifies the rules."

In a statement, the American Trucking Assns. said it "continues to staunchly oppose reopening this loophole in the Phase 2 GHG regulation." Further, "we are closely monitoring ongoing developments and working with coalition partners to ensure that all motor carriers and truck and engine manufacturers play by the same rules," ATA stated. 

About the Author

Neil Abt

Neil Abt, editorial director at Fleet Owner, is a veteran journalist with over 20 years of reporting experience, including 15 years spent covering the trucking industry. A graduate of American University in Washington, D.C., he began his career covering sports for The Washington Post newspaper, followed by a position in the newsroom of America Online (AOL) and then both reporting and leadership roles at Transport Topics. Abt is based out of Portland, Oregon.

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