Car Industry

Acting EPA chief Wheeler cracks down on polluting 'glider' trucks

These trucks with old engines and new chassis were being built in record numbers under Scott Pruitt's tenure as head of the EPA, but there's a new sheriff in town.

Among many things that former head of the EPA Scott Pruitt did during his time at the agency was to cease enforcement of emissions standards for so-called "Glider" trucks. Gliders are new heavy truck chassis that have older, less technologically advanced and emissions-compliant engines installed into them.

The Obama administration sought to close the loopholes that allow gliders to be built and sold in significant numbers in an effort to curb their pollution but Pruitt opted to toss that aside in the name of business. We've covered the glider situation in the past, but the big news is that the new acting head of the EPA, a former coal lobbyist, has moved to reinstate the Obama regulations after a court insisted that they be enforced once again.

Gliders are new truck chassis and bodies that are powered by older, less emission-controlled engines.

Tim Graham/Getty Images

"I have concluded that the application of current regulations to the glider industry does not represent the kind of extremely unusual circumstances that support the EPA's exercise of enforcement discretion," said Andrew Wheeler, acting administrator for the Environmental Protection Agency.

Many trucking fleets like gliders because they are often cheaper to maintain and run than modern trucks, but the amount of pollutants that they emit can be hundreds of times more than the federal standards would allow. The laws that permitted gliders to be built in the first place were designed primarily to reduce the number of wrecked trucks going into scrap yards, instead giving their engines new homes. That kind of backfired.

Acting EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler.

Mark Wilson/Getty Images

While it seems unlikely that the current administration is going to change its overall policy direction, this reversal can be looked at as a small victory for the environment, and we're glad to see it happen.