SOURCES: EPA’s Effort To Save An Industry From Obama Regulations Is Being Held Up By Bureaucratic Delays

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Michael Bastasch DCNF Managing Editor
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The Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) repeal of Obama-era regulations that could put an entire industry out of business has been slowed by bureaucratic delays and an unexpected request from the White House.

EPA has been working for months to finalize its repeal of Obama administration regulations on glider kits that critics say would have put an entire industry that sells refurbished truck engines out of business in the coming years.

Initially, EPA’s effort to finalize the repeal of glider kit regulations was slow-walked by career officials at the agency, sources familiar with the matter told The Daily Caller News Foundation. But when EPA was finally ready to send the finalized repeal to the White House Office of Management and Budget (OMB), it was rejected late last week, three sources told TheDCNF. OMB did not respond to a request for comment.

OMB rejected EPA’s glider kit rule repeal before the agency officially sent it over for review, one source said. OMB said EPA needed to conduct a regulatory impact analysis, three sources said.

The rejection was somewhat shocking since the rule is being rejected on legal grounds, rather than economic ones, sources said. EPA will likely conduct a regulatory impact analysis, but that could set back finalizing the rule a month or so, one source said.

The Obama administration issued regulations to ban the sale of glider kits, which are new truck bodies fitted with refurbished engines. The engines may generate more pollutants, but they are cheaper than buying new trucks with new engines.

Glider kits became an incredibly important source of trucks for small companies unable to afford newer engines, especially in the wake of Clinton administration trucking regulations that went into full effect in 2010.

Environmentalists and big automakers worked with the Obama administration to clamp down on the glider industry. The Obama EPA issued regulations to phase out glider kits over a matter of years.

The Obama EPA did this by using a provision of the Clean Air Act allowing regulations on “new motor vehicles.” The EPA simply reclassified the refurbished glider kit engines as new motor vehicles. EPA also justified its regulations on glider kits under its authority to regulate greenhouse gas emissions.

The Tennessee-based Fitzgerald Glider Kits, the largest glider kit producer, petitioned EPA in June 2017 to rescind the regulation, which would kill its industry. Administrator Scott Pruitt granted the petition and issued a proposed rule in November.

CEO Tommy Fitzgerald built a $700 million company, supplying trucks that are about 25 percent cheaper than competitors — major automakers, like Volvo, trying to sell newer, more expensive trucks.

“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,” Fitzgerald wrote in an op-ed for The Daily Caller.

“Making our rebuilt engines meet new truck standards would have killed the industry, and the glider haters knew it,” Fitzgerald wrote.

In the months since, the auto industry has worked to squash the rule’s repeal on the grounds it would jeopardize its investments in newer, more expensive engines.

The New York Times noted that “major truck makers like Volvo and Navistar; fleet owners like the United Parcel Service; lobbying powerhouses like the National Association of Manufacturers” oppose repealing the glider kit rule.

Republican lawmakers have also come out against repealing the glider rule, signing a letter to EPA urging them to abandon their repeal effort. However, many of the letter signatories have gotten donations from Volvo and other companies or groups opposed to glider kits.

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