Today's Trucking

Analysis: Growing Tussle Over Glider Kits

Posted: July 16, 2015 by Rolf Lockwood

No, I still haven’t read all 1349 pages of the proposed rulemaking on Phase 2 of Washington’s greenhouse gas and fuel economy regime. And I don’t feel especially guilty. But I can tell you that it’s been formally published so now there’s the better part of two months for interested parties to bitch, moan, or otherwise comment.

One commenter has already sprung up, and in the U.S. House of Representatives, no less. Rep. Diane Black (R-Tenn.) sponsored a measure “to protect Tennessee workers and small manufacturing businesses from the EPA’s latest overreach.” Her proposed amendment to an appropriations bill would prohibit the Environmental Protection Agency from using fiscal-year 2016 funds to enforce new restrictions on glider kits, at least temporarily protecting gliders as they’re now sold. Phase 2 would treat them as new trucks.

Oddly enough, Black’s constituency in east Tennessee is where Fitzgerald Glider Kits, a major assembler of the vehicles, has plants. The House approved her amendment.

“Since a glider kit is less expensive than buying a new truck, and can extend the working life of a truck, businesses and drivers with a damaged or older vehicle may choose to purchase one of these kits instead of buying a completely new vehicle,” she said in her speech on the House floor. “Unfortunately, the EPA is proposing to apply the new Phase 2 standards to glider kits, even though gliders are not really new vehicles.

“Mister Speaker, this directly impacts my district where we have glider kits being manufactured and purchased by companies in places like Byrdstown, Sparta, and Jamestown – communities that are already struggling with above-average unemployment and would see job opportunities put further out of reach if this misguided rule goes into effect.

“It is also unclear whether the EPA even has the authority to regulate replacement parts like gliders in the first place,” she said. “What’s more, while the EPA’s stated goal with Phase 2 is to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, the agency has not studied the emissions impact of remanufactured engines and gliders compared to new vehicles.”

You can listen to her speech in the House here.

Long a bone of contention , the EPA wants gliders to use diesels that meet current emissions limits, not older engines that adhere to earlier, easier standards. By all accounts there’s an exception in the Phase 2 proposals that exempts companies that assemble fewer than 300 glider kits a year, but Fitzgerald makes about 1400.

“Under this ill-advised rule, businesses and drivers that wish to use glider kits would be effectively forced to buy a completely new vehicle instead,” Rep. Black told her House colleagues. “Reducing glider sales would also end up limiting consumer choice in the marketplace.

Editor’s note: In a recent issue of the Lockwood’s newsletter, he wrote that when it comes to overall greenhouse gas rules, “It seems very likely that Canadian legislators will simply follow suit, as they’ve done in the past, despite mild efforts by this country’s trucking industry to press for standards that better fit our unique, and heavier, vehicles.”  

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