Energy

Emails Suggest An Even Deeper Level Of Collusion Between Top EPA Officials And Lobbyists

REUTERS/Ting Shen

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Michael Bastasch Energy Editor
  • Emails show even more collusion between top EPA officials and lobbyists with Volvo
  • Volvo inspired EPA to undertake a study that’s been help up by glider kit opponents
  • It’s only the latest development in the battle to roll back Obama-era regulations

Newly unearthed emails suggest an even deeper level of collusion between Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) career staff and lobbyists to keep an Obama-era regulation in place.

It’s only the latest development in the Trump administration’s battle to finalize a repeal of Obama-era regulations slapped on a small section of the trucking industry. Emails suggest EPA officials were working with lobbyists opposed to deregulation even longer than previously thought.

A lobbyist for Volvo Group North America suggested EPA officials test the performance of glider kits — trucks with refurbished engines built into new chasses — that was later held up by opponents of deregulation, according to emails obtained by former Trump transition team official Steve Milloy. Glider kits compete with new trucks manufactured by Volvo.

“New e-mails obtained via FOIA indicate origin of the rigged testing idea,” Milloy wrote on his blog JunkScience.com. “It’s great to be able to just dial-up the government and have it destroy your competitor, isn’t it?”

The new emails, obtained through a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request, show that Bill Charmley, a top official at EPA’s Office of Transportation and Air Quality, responded to a voicemail left by Volvo lobbyist Steve Berry.

“I am very interested in pursuing this opportunity,” Charmley wrote to Berry on Sept. 5, 2017, regarding the lobbyist’s suggestion to run a test “where Volvo would provide the test articles — perhaps one glider and one recent model year Volvo tractor.”

Berry then followed up with Charmely’s boss Angela Cullen, who also works out of EPA’s vehicle testing lab in Ann Arbor, Michigan. Berry also said he’d tie in Jeff Marley, a manager at Volvo’s diesel engine certification division.

These new emails build on documents Milloy released in June, showing that EPA testing lab officials accepted Berry’s help finding vehicles to test as part of their study on emissions from glider trucks.

EPA ended up testing two glider engines for its 2017 study — both of which were procured with help from Berry. The emails showed Berry helped EPA obtain two remanufactured engines from Fitzgerald, a leading glider kit manufacturer.

Fitzgerald petitioned the Trump administration in 2017 to repeal regulations on glider kits put in place by the Obama administration. Current EPA regulations strictly limit glider sales, squeezing an industry created to keep cheaper, used truck engines on the roads and out of landfills.

Volvo and other major truck manufacturers, however, argue unrestricted glider sales exploited what they call a loophole in the Clean Air Act allowing used engines to be sold without having to comply with the latest regulations. (RELATED: There’s A Common Thread In EPA Attempts To Thwart Rolling Back Obama-Era Vehicle Regulations)

The EPA glider study was conducted without the knowledge of EPA leadership in D.C. while former Administrator Scott Pruitt headed the agency. The agency never officially released the study, but it somehow ended up in a regulatory docket in 2017.

The study bore no official EPA markings, was not peer-reviewed and none of its author’s names were listed on it. Opponents of deregulating glider trucks used the study to bolster their case, including a Volvo lobbyist.

The New York Times used the study to label gliders “super polluting” as part of a lengthy piece published earlier this year. Environmentalists also oppose deregulating glider kits, arguing they are more polluting than new trucks.

Fitzgerald, however, was not consulted in the study and was never asked by EPA to provide glider kits for testing. Instead, EPA relied on glider kits solely sourced by an opponent of deregulation.

Neither Berry, Charmley nor Cullen responded to The Daily Caller News Foundation’s request for comment.

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