For those of us living in the real world (i.e., outside the Washington, D.C. Beltway), the recent media hyperventilation over Environmental Protection Agency chief Scott Pruitt’s living and security arrangements is just a bunch of hot air. Let me tell you what President Donald Trump and Pruitt mean to my employees, my community and to those of the small trucking industry across the country.
I went from living in a broken down school bus in Kentucky to building a $700 million business selling “glider” trucks. We take worn and wrecked trucks, rebuild the engines and transmissions, install new cabs over the rebuilds and then sell the end products as gliders. Our gliders cost about 25 percent less than new trucks, a big money-saver for small and independent trucking businesses.
My business has been so successful that we have been able to reinvest our profits back into the community and support other local businesses and charities. It has been a godsend for rural Tennessee and Kentucky.
But as Fitzgerald’s glider business flourished, competitors in the new truck industry went to Washington D.C. to put an end to it.
Instead of celebrating our rural American economic miracle, glider haters in the new truck industry conspired with the Obama EPA to try to put us out of business, a move that would have killed some 22,000 jobs.
The new truck industry, led by foreign-owned Volvo Trucks (whose largest shareholder is a Chinese company), lobbied the Obama EPA to ensnare us in an ongoing rulemaking to establish emissions standards for new trucks. Making our rebuilt engines meet new truck standards would have killed the industry, and the glider haters knew it.
The problem with the Obama EPA’s position was, however, that gliders aren’t new trucks. They are basically used trucks with new seats and safety features. But that didn’t stop the agency, which proceeded to cherry-pick language from one of our magazine ads as a basis for reclassifying gliders as “new” trucks.
Our goose was cooked until President Trump and Pruitt came to town.
We petitioned the Trump EPA in June 2017 to reverse the arbitrary Obama EPA determination that gliders are “new” trucks. Administrator Pruitt granted the petition in November 2017. We hope the proposed reversal will be finalized anytime now.
But don’t get the idea that the new truck industry has given up on killing off glider trucks. It hasn’t.
After we filed out petition, Volvo Trucks continued to work behind Administrator Pruitt’s back with rogue EPA staff in a Michigan lab. Without Pruitt’s knowledge, much less approval, these EPA staffers conducted dubious tests on a couple of mysteriously sourced gliders. The EPA lab reported that some air pollutant emissions from gliders are higher than emissions of new trucks. These “results” were then touted by Volvo Trucks and its trade groups at a public hearing on the proposed reversal.
Ironically, the lab tests showed that global warming emissions from gliders were actually lower than those of new trucks — and global warming emissions were the ostensible reason for including gliders in the Obama EPA rule-making in the first place.
There have been many other shenanigans attempted by Volvo Trucks and its trade groups in their bid to kill off gliders. Through allies in the radical green movements, a university professor has been pressured to denounce his own glider emissions testing results. Blue state attorneys general have been organized into a group to pressure the Trump EPA. We have reason to believe Volvo Truck lobbyists may have even tried to get the EPA Inspector General to launch an investigation of the ongoing rule-making reversal.
Through it all, though, Administrator Pruitt has kept his eye on the ball: President Trump’s campaign promise to rollback the vast amount of unjustified and job-killing over-regulation burdening our economy.
The rest of us need to keep our eyes on the ball, too. Scott Pruitt is doing what President Trump appointed him to do. Ignore the phony arm-waving to the contrary.
Tommy Fitzgerald, Sr. is CEO of Fitzgerald Glider Kits (FitzgeraldGliderKits.com).
The views and opinions expressed in this commentary are those of the author and do not reflect the official position of The Daily Caller.