Report: EPA Broke Law by Ignoring Kids’ Health To Roll Back Rules on Dirty Engines in Big Trucks

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For Immediate Release: 
Thursday, December 5, 2019

WASHINGTON – The Trump Environmental Protection Agency violated federal regulations in order to speed up repeal of pollution rules for old, dirty diesel engines in new freight trucks, instructing agency officials to ignore the impacts on children’s health.

An investigation by the EPA’s acting inspector general found that former agency chief Scott Pruitt directed staff to roll back the Obama-era rules “as quickly as possible,” ordering them to skip explicit requirements under the Clean Air Act to consider the risks to children’s health.

The proposed repeal would exempt so-called glider trucks – new big rigs that are fitted with old dirty diesel engines – from new pollution standards. As those standards were developed, EPA scientists found that these super-polluting diesel engines can emit up to 55 times more soot than newer trucks.

But after lobbying on behalf of a West Virginia glider-truck company that hosted President Trump during his election campaign, in November 2017 Pruitt proposed to open a loophole to allow gliders to use engines that don’t meet current pollution standards. He disregarded the findings of EPA scientists and relied on a study paid for by Fitzgerald Glider Kits, which erroneously claimed gliders emit far less pollution than newer engines with emissions controls. 

“This is now just the daily order of business at the Trump EPA – special favors for polluters that would endanger the health of America’s children,” EWG President Ken Cook. “Pruitt not only deliberately broke the law but once again ignored the findings of his agency’s own scientists.”

The inspector general’s investigation found that Pruitt’s order to fast-track the rollback “caused the public to not be informed of the proposed rule’s benefits, costs, potential alternatives and impacts on children’s health during the public comment period.” The report said the EPA should not only conduct the required studies on children’s health but also inform the public of its findings and provide opportunity for public comment before the rule is finalized.


The Environmental Working Group is a nonprofit, non-partisan organization that empowers people to live healthier lives in a healthier environment. Through research, advocacy and unique education tools, EWG drives consumer choice and civic action.