There’s A Common Thread In EPA Attempts To Thwart Rolling Back Obama-Era Vehicle Regulations

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Michael Bastasch DCNF Managing Editor
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  • EPA’s William Charmley sent a memo to White House officials in recent months critical of a Trump administration deregulatory effort.
  • Past emails show Charmley corresponded with lobbyists opposed to Trump’s plan to repeal regulations on used trucks.
  • Members of Congress asked federal investigators to look into EPA staffers’ correspondence with lobbyists.

New documents show Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) comments critical of the Trump administration’s agenda were sent to the White House by an official whose name appeared in recently revealed emails suggesting agency staff colluded with lobbyists opposed to another deregulatory plan.

William Charmley, the director of the Assessment & Standards division at EPA’s Office of Transportation and Air Quality, sent at least two emails to White House officials in recent months with analysis critical of a Trump administration deregulatory effort.

One email sent June 18 included an EPA memo that criticized key aspects of the Trump administration’s plan to roll back Obama-era greenhouse gas emissions standards for cars and trucks. (RELATED: The ‘Brazilian Trump’ Leading The Presidential Race Wants To Leave The Paris Climate Accord)

The memo sought “to soften the government’s proposal to ease vehicle emission standards,” according to Bloomberg, which first reported of the document Tuesday. EPA officials also “repeatedly questioned assumptions in NHTSA’s draft of the plan,” Bloomberg reported.

For example, the memo sent by Charmley noted the “proposed standards are detrimental to safety, rather than beneficial,” contradicting EPA and National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) public claims the rule would save 12,000 lives from fatal accidents.

EPA officials also disagreed with the “changes in prices, fuel economy, and other attributes expected to result” from increased new car sales from rolling back fuel economy rules, the memo noted.

EPA and NHTSA jointly announced a plan in August to roll back Obama-era climate regulations on cars that aimed to achieve an average fuel economy of over 50 miles per gallon by 2025. The administration said suspending those rules would save money and lives by making safer cars more affordable.

“These emails are but a fraction of the robust dialogue that occurred during interagency deliberations for the proposed rule,” EPA spokesman John Konkus said in an emailed statement.

“EPA is currently soliciting comments on eight different alternative standards and we look forward to reviewing any new data and information,” Konkus said.

However, this is not the first time Charmely has appeared in a public release of documents. His name also came up in emails released earlier in 2018 suggesting Michigan-based EPA officials colluded with trucking lobbyists to undermine the Trump administration’s agenda.

Charmely emailed with Truck and Engine Manufacturers Association (EMA) lobbyist Matthew Spears about a study used by opponents of EPA plans to repeal Obama-era rules on glider trucks, according to emails obtained by publisher Steve Milloy. In the emails, Charmley tells Spears the anti-glider study was nearing completion and laid out positions taken by trucking industry opponents of gliders.

The study was never sanctioned by EPA leadership, was not peer-reviewed and bore no official agency markings, but environmentalists and industry opponents of glider kits — trucks with used engines — to bolster their case.

Emails show Volvo lobbyist Steven Berry worked with EPA career officials to procure gliders for the study, and Charmley was also contacted by Volvo lobbyist Susan Alt about opposition letters to glider kit deregulation. Alt somehow obtained a copy of the EPA’s findings, which she touted during a December 2017 public hearing on EPA’s proposal to repeal regulations on glider kits. It’s unclear how she got the study, which was never publicly released.

Four federal lawmakers asked EPA’s Office of Inspector General to investigate communications Charmley and other officials had with opponents of repealing glider kit regulations put in place by the Obama administration in 2016.

“When EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt repealed the current glider rule, career employees at the EPA communicated with the original equipment manufacturer (OEM) with the intent of eliminating the glider industry,” four GOP lawmakers, led by Rep. Bill Posey of Florida, wrote to EPA Inspector General Arthur Elkins in June.

“In our opinion, EPA’s conduct undermines the current Administration’s policies and prevents the repeal of the rule,” Republicans wrote.

Charmley did not respond to The Daily Caller News Foundation’s request for comment in time for publication.

Read the full memo Charmley sent to the White House.

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