A recent Environmental Protection Agency Inspector General report determines that Scott Pruitt, former agency Administrator, did not follow legal and heath safeguards in 2017, when he proposed to repeal a regulation which limited the number of glider trucks able to be made each year.
The Environmental Protection Agency’s actions around the repeal “lacked transparency and deprived the public of required information,” said the report from the Inspector General.
While these findings were reported on December 5th, the investigation took place between December 2018 and July of this year.
According to the EPA,, a glider kit is defined as a heavy-duty truck chassis and cab assembly, typically produced without a new engine, rear axle, or transmission. A third party generally installs these parts for complete assembly of the vehicle, and engines are sometimes remanufactured before being placed into the truck.
A recent EPA study found that gliders tested in highway conditions had nitrogen oxide emissions 43 times higher and particulate matter emissions 55 times higher than newer trucks in compliance with emissions standards.
The proposed repeal of the Obama-era regulation would relieve the industry of compliance with the requirements of the Phase 2 Greenhouse Gas rule, which set both production limits and emissions standards for gliders beginning January 1st, 2018. Including glider kits in this rule caused frustration among many owner-operators, as they often choose the truck for its lower expenses and ability to be customized.
“The absence of analyses resulted in the public not being informed–either during the public comment period or thereafter–of the proposed rule’s benefits costs, potential alternatives, and impacts on children’s health,” the EPA report said.
The report also stated that Pruitt worked to have the proposal be completed “as quickly as possible without conducting the analyses required by [Executive Orders] 12866 and 13045,” which would have included the cost-benefit and health impact analyses of the proposed repeal.
The IG said EPA officials told investigators that the rule-making processes were “fast and loose” at the time the repeal was proposed, and that Pruitt issued the proposal around four months after a petition for reconsideration of the Phase 2 regulation was filed by Fitzgerald Glider Kits, Harrison Truck Centers Inc., and Indiana Phoenix Inc.–three leading glider truck manufacturers.
Also in support of repealing glider regulations is The Owner-operator Independent Drivers Association. OOIDA’s director of federal affairs, Jay Grimes, said that glider kits are a more affordable alternative for new commercial vehicles, especially for smaller trucking companies.
“In an effort to provide expedited regulatory relief for glider kit manufacturers and consumers, EPA unfortunately did not perform various analyses and reviews that are required by the federal rule-making process,” said Grimes. “We hope EPA will address the report’s recommendations in a timely manner and propose an updated rule that will revise current production limits on glider vehicles and engines.”
In the report, the Inspector General also states that EPA officials knew the proposed rule was “economically significant” and that they had the available information necessary to show that, but Pruitt still directed the Office of Air and Radiation to develop the repeal without the analyzation required by executive orders.
The IG also said auditors “encountered an impediment to obtaining all the desired information to complete its audit” due to the Office of Management and Budget and the EPA’s failure to respond to the IG’s requests for further information.
“The OMB [Office of Management and Budget] refused to provide the OIG [Office of the Inspector General] with specific responses or documentation related to OIG questions regarding OMB’s Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs’ involvement in this rule-making and the decisions made, stating that the information sought was ‘particularly sensitive,” said the report.
The report says the agency must “identify for the public the substantive change to the proposed rule made at the suggestion or recommendation of OMB, conduct the required analyses prior to finalizing the repeal, provide the public a means to comment on the analyses supporting the rule-making, and document the decision made.”
Democratic Senators Tom Carper of Delaware and Tom Udall of New Mexico, who requested the audit, said in a joint statement that the repeal proposal was “one of the most reckless and dangerous efforts of Scott Pruitt’s short EPA career.”
They also found extremely disturbing the fact that the report showed the EPA’s efforts were aided by the White House’s Office of Management and Budget, which impeded the investigation, covered up the agency’s wrongdoing, and violated the law.