Last month, the EPA announced that it will not enforce Obama-era regulations that sought to cap glider kit building in the United States. Under the proposed Obama regulations that were stated but never finalized, glider kit builders like Fitzgerald were to be capped at building 300 glider kits per year. Now, under the Trump EPA, glider kit builders can produce the equal amount of glider kits per year that they did in 2017, which is well above the 300-unit cap. The EPA said that it will not enforce the Obama cap until at least the end of 2019. This scored a major victory for Fitzgerald and other glider kit manufacturers that stated that the Obama regulations will destroy their businesses.
The idea behind the cap was to curb carbon emissions coming from engines that were built prior to 2010. Because gliders use engines that were subject to prior emissions testing, the Obama administration sought to curb glider production.
A glider kit is a truck wherein the truck itself may be new but the engine is rebuilt and outfitted in the new truck. Companies like Fitzgerald use engines from teardowns and other components to recreate the engines for the big trucks. The purpose is to provide an engine at a lower cost that also has lower gas recirculation and do not require treatment after exhaust. The demand for such gliders has increased steadily over the last several years due to its increased cost efficiency and lower cost price for a new body truck.
Due to its lower price, gliders are often used by smaller and independent trucking companies. In turn, smaller companies that service rural areas will, according to the Trump administration, continue to serve smaller, rural areas that larger trucking companies do not service. According to former EPA administrator Scott Pruitt, the Obama administration requirements for glider kits would have had a devastating effect on smaller and rural communities.
New Truck Policy
Under the proposed Trump rules, glider kits would not be treated as new motor vehicles and therefore not subject to the Obama-era EPA requirements. This means that gliders would be considered older vehicles still on the road that are not part of this EPA rule.
In 2006, ultra-low-sulfur diesel, or ULSD, became widespread on both the US and European markets. The use of ULSD allows for the fitting of systems within trucks that control carbon emissions. Absent ULSD, fitting an engine with these systems would have be ineffective. Now, however, these systems are operational and greatly reduce carbon emissions.
As such, it is curious why the EPA looked to cap glider kits just because they are older engines. Despite that these engines are refurbished, these engines are using USLD to fuel their roadtrips. With this type of fuel, emissions were significantly lowered even though the engines are technically from an era where carbon emissions had been much higher.
The EPA will revisit the cap on glider kits at the end of 2019.