AG Grewal Sues EPA over Scott Pruitt's Final Act: The Suspension of Federal Rule Limiting Production of Super-Polluting Trucks

TRENTON – Attorney General Gurbir S. Grewal today sued the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) over its decision to suspend a rule limiting the production of super-polluting trucks known as “gliders.” Former EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt ordered the suspension on July 5, 2018, his final day in office.

The super-polluting glider trucks combine older engines with newer truck bodies, which means their engines lack critical modern pollution control equipment and fail to satisfy current emissions standards. Although EPA previously adopted rules to limit glider production to promote public health, last month EPA issued a memorandum suspending that rule.

In a multi-state motion filed with the U.S. Court of Appeals in Washington, D.C., Attorney General Grewal joined Attorneys General for 15 other states and the District of Columbia in challenging EPA’s “blatantly unlawful” suspension of that rule.

“As his final attack on the environment, Scott Pruitt decided to suspend one last Obama-era rule:  a restriction on super-polluting glider trucks,” said Attorney General Grewal. “But while Administrator Pruitt may be gone, the effects of his policies are still with us. By letting more of these super polluting trucks on the road, EPA is putting politics before the public’s health and safety. And even worse, EPA is completely disregarding the statutes and procedures it is required to follow. I’m proud to stand with my fellow Attorneys General in challenging the unlawful suspension of the Glider Rule.”

“Glider trucks are a dangerous throwback to a bygone era. They emit significantly higher amounts of particulates and nitrogen oxide into the atmosphere, putting at risk the health of people, particularly those who live along highways and in urban areas,” said Department of Environmental Protection Commissioner Catherine R. McCabe. “The suspension of rules limiting glider kits reverses all of the hard work we’ve done in New Jersey to reduce diesel emissions. This is unacceptable and we vigorously oppose it.”

Gliders are heavy-duty trucks in which a used or refurbished engine is incorporated into a new base frame. Although gliders are often sold as new trucks, they typically use rebuilt engines that lack the pollution control equipment required by the EPA’s 2010 heavy-duty truck standards. In an effort to address that problem, EPA enacted its 2016 Glider Rule to limit manufacturers’ use of “non-emissions compliant” engines in building their trucks.
However, the EPA earlier this month issued a “Conditional No Action Assurance Regarding Small Manufacturers of Glider Vehicles,” which Attorney General Grewal and the other participating Attorneys General explained is a “de facto suspension” of its Glider Rule for the next 12 months. The suspension will allow for a massive increase in the number of highly-polluting, heavy-duty trucks on American roads. Based on EPA’s own estimates, the brief notes, each additional glider truck sold will cause an average of between $300,000 and $1.1 million in health impacts, including “hundreds of premature deaths and heart attacks and thousands of asthma exacerbations and lost work days.”

EPA’s suspension “represents a full reversal of EPA’s position on gliders, done without adequate explanation, much less good reasons,” the brief notes. “EPA’s action cannot be squared with its mandate under the Clean Air Act to protect the public from emissions which endanger their health and welfare.”

In addition to demonstrating that EPA’s action has violated its duties to protect the environment and public health, today’s multi-state filing explains that EPA ran afoul of federal law on procedural grounds as well. Specifically, the states point out, EPA failed to provide public notice and seek public comment prior to taking action.  EPA also gave no data or analysis to justify its decision, and violated its own longstanding policy against “No Action Assurances.”

In addition to New Jersey, the Attorneys General of California, Connecticut, Illinois, Maryland, Massachusetts, New York, North Carolina, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Vermont and Washington joined today’s filing. The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection and the California Air Resources Board also joined.

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