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EPA Proposal to Exempt Gliders from GHG Reg Draws Heavy Criticism

Opponents of the Environmental Protection Agency’s proposal to roll back the glider kit portion of its greenhouse gas emissions regulations says the plan would undermine environmental investments made in the industry and encourage the use of older, less efficient technologies.

A public hearing in Washington, D.C., to comment on the EPA’s recent proposed rulemaking to eliminate provisions affecting glider kits within the Phase 2 Greenhouse Gas Emissions and Fuel Efficiency Standards, which start to take effect in January, reports Heavy Duty Trucking.

The Phase 2 rules as written would allow glider kits only for their original purpose, which was seen as reclaiming powertrains from wrecked trucks and reusing them in new bodies and chassis.

Rachel Muncrief, the heavy-duty program director for the International Council on Clean Transportation and a participant in Monday’s hearing, called them “zombie trucks.”

“(The) EPA is bringing the oldest and dirtiest diesel engines back from the dead—but disguising them in a shiny new host body. How? In the form of the innocuous-sounding glider truck.”

Pat Quinn, executive director of the Heavy Duty Fuel Efficiency Leadership Group – and “informal alliance” of companies including Cummins, Eaton, FedEx, PepsiCo, Wabash National, said the group supports the development of national fuel efficiency and greenhouse gas emission regulations for heavy-duty vehicles.

“Truck and engine manufacturers over the past 10 years have made enormous investments in sophisticated emission control technologies to comply with current emissions standards,” Quinn said. “If EPA’s proposed repeal of emission requirements for gliders has the anticipated effect of expanding glider production, truck and engine manufacturers will face a significant competitive disadvantage.”

Quinn was one of a number of speakers citing EPA’s own data, which suggests ‘nearly all engines for recent glider production’ are MY 1998-2002 that are not equipped with exhaust gas re-circulation (EGR), which lowers NOx emissions. The re-use of these older powertrains in glider kits also produces elevated levels of PM emissions that significantly exceed current standards and currently certified OEM products. Based upon recent EPA data, glider vehicle NOx levels are four to 40 times higher than current powertrains and PM levels are 50 to 450 times higher.”

Dave Cooke, senior vehicles analyst for the Union of Concerned Scientists, also spoke at the hearing. In a blog post published before the hearing, he pointed to recently published data from EPA testing.

“According to the test results, it appears that these engines actually exceed the legal limits they were initially designed for. This means that the “special programming” of the engine … may result in greater fuel economy, but it means greater pollution, too,” Cooke writes.

Quinn also emphasized the importance of national regulations, saying the group was concerned that repealing the glider provisions “could lead to an inconsistent patchwork of federal and state requirements, producing uncertainty for truck and engine manufacturers and fleets.”

The California Air Resources Board spoke at the hearing as well. “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,” said Steve Cliff, CARB deputy executive officer.

Read full article here.

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