So, what if emissions- and fuel-efficiency standards for heavy-duty diesel trucks are circumvented and more and more high-polluting glider trucks are allowed on America’s roads?
First, to recap, from the “Why EPA proposal to put high-polluting diesel trucks back on American roadways is a bad move” post (Part 1), a “glider” truck is: “one where an older, high-polluting engine is attached to a new chassis and the entire package is then sold as new.”
But, this is where the rubber meets the road, so to speak, and that is that, “[g]lider trucks can emit harmful soot and smog-causing pollutants – including oxides of nitrogen and particulate matter, as well as cancer-causing diesel particulate – at a rate forty times that of new freight trucks,” the Environmental Defense Fund in its Dec. 4, 2017 press release: “EDF Calls on EPA to Protect Americans’ Health from Super-Polluting Glider Trucks at Public Hearing Today,” argued.
The Environmental Defense Fund couldn’t have been any more to the point. In its press release in question, it opened thus: “EDF joined dozens of Americans at a public hearing in Washington, DC today to oppose Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Scott Pruitt’s proposed rollback of emission limits for high-polluting heavy-duty freight trucks.”
The operative word? “Oppose.”
ARB in its own issued release had much to say on the matter in fact, not the least of which was, “[ARB Deputy Executive Officer Steve] Cliff urged EPA representatives to listen to public health advocates, air quality agency representatives and manufacturers present at the hearing, united in their opposition to the glider rule repeal. He also reminded the EPA representatives to follow through on its mandate to protect the environment and its ‘duty to protect air quality and the health of Americans.’”
That wasn’t the half of it. There was this from the ARB Chair also.
“‘If you enjoy driving behind a truck belching clouds of black carcinogenic smoke, you can thank EPA for putting many more of them on the roads, rather than cleaner modern models,’ said CARB Chair Mary D. Nichols. ‘This illegal effort by EPA will open the floodgates to allow unlimited numbers of old and dirty trucks to pour onto our streets and highways masquerading as brand new clean trucks.”
I don’t believe anyone in delivering hearing testimony or otherwise could be any more clear and direct than that.
ARB in its release in question further explained: “Currently, some 10,000 ‘glider kits’ are sold each year, about one out of 20 heavy-duty (Class 7 and 8) tractor trucks sold. This is a vastly greater number than just a decade ago. Repealing the current caps on glider kit production would essentially allow an unfettered number of older, dirty engines onto the market. These trucks lack filters that trap toxic diesel soot and also lack controls that limit smog-forming nitrogen oxides.” Such releases, the ARB continued, were at levels from “4 to 40 times higher than those of modern trucks.”
The ARB adding: “In fact, these glider kit trucks are so dirty that if they made up less than 7 percent of all medium- and heavy-duty trucks in California the pollution they emit would completely offset the clean-air benefits of California’s current efforts to clean up the state’s diesel trucks and buses. This puts Californians at risk, and would make it impossible for California to meet our federally mandated air quality standards.”
But, I believe, many would do well to remember this also from the above-referenced Air Quality Matters blogpost, and that is: “‘The final standards are cost effective for customers and businesses, delivering favorable payback periods for truck owners,’. … ‘The buyer of a new long-haul truck in 2027 would recoup the investment in fuel-efficient technology in less than two years through fuel savings.’”
The operative term here: “would recoup”.
A point, it would seem, for those who either buy or intend to buy glider-truck kits are missing.
And, what if heavy-duty diesel-truck-emissions standards are relaxed after all? The opportunity to not only have far cleaner-burning, way more fuel-efficient trucks operating on America’s roads and highways, and the ability to recoup the investment of a purchased big rig in a relatively short period of time comparatively speaking, but money saved via trucking interests not having to spend as much on the purchase of fuel – again comparatively speaking, incidentally, all of which would help the bottom line, is missed, is what!
A Catch 22 (paradox) if there ever was one.
Article updated on Dec. 11, 2017 at 9:06 a.m. and again at 5:16 p.m. Pacific Standard Time.
Image (upper): California Environmental Protection Agency Air Resources Board