Ranking Member Bonamici’s Opening Statement for Glider Truck Regulations Hearing
(Washington, DC) – Today, the House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology’s Subcommittees on Environment and Oversight are holding a joint Subcommittee hearing titled, “Examining the Underlying Science and Impacts of Glider Truck Regulations.”
Ranking Member of the Subcommittee on Environment, Rep. Suzanne Bonamici’s (D-OR), opening statement for the record is below.
Thank you, Mr. Chairman. The negative effects of air pollution on respiratory health are well documented. Exposure to criteria pollutants such as particulate matter and nitrogen oxides, or NOX, can lead to the exacerbation of respiratory diseases, including asthma, that can have devastating effects on children and the elderly. The Environmental Protection Agency has found that more than half of the total NOX emissions inventory in the U.S. are from the transportation sector, which is why standards limiting criteria pollutant emissions from heavy-duty trucks is key to fulfilling the EPA’s mission of protecting public health and the environment.
Commonsense regulations, like the Phase 2 Rule for greenhouse gas emissions standards for heavy-duty vehicles, exemplify what happens when the federal government works collaboratively with regulated industries to create standards that are economically achievable, technically feasible, and protective of public health; something that some Members of the Majority seem to suggest is impossible.
I expect that some of today’s witnesses will argue that glider manufacturers have the right to petition the EPA to re-open the Phase 2 Rule provisions relating to gliders, which they do. But it should be noted that no glider manufacturers brought challenges in court following the publication of the final Phase 2 Rule in 2016. Instead, they waited to lobby an industry-friendly Administration to repeal the glider provisions to benefit their bottom line – at the cost of public health.
Some glider manufacturers claim that using a rebuilt engine in a glider vehicle can save on the greenhouse emissions produced in the steelmaking process. But make no mistake, these one-time emissions ‘savings’ are insignificant compared with the total lifetime emissions from glider engines without emissions controls. The EPA has estimated that restricting the use of high polluting engines in 10,000 glider vehicles over the lifetime of those vehicles would prevent the emissions of more than 400,000 tons of NOX and 6,800 tons of particulate matter and prevent up to 1,600 premature deaths.
The fact that so much pollution and so many premature deaths can be traced directly to the manufacture and sale of glider trucks without modern-day emissions controls is revealing. Allowing this level of unchecked pollution on our roadways undercuts the progress made in cleaning up diesel engines in the past and is, quite frankly, irresponsible, especially when we have the solution available to us: using engines that meet current emissions standards in glider trucks.
Also, we are nearly two years into this Administration and once again we find ourselves at a hearing attacking an existing EPA rule and study without a witness from the EPA to explain and defend it. But I submit that there is no reason to doubt the glider emissions study from the EPA’s National Vehicle and Fuel Emissions Laboratory in Ann Arbor, Michigan. The Majority only seeks to highlight it because the results are at odds with a glider emissions study from Tennessee Tech University that was used to justify the proposed repeal of the glider rule. It’s important to note that the Tennessee Tech study is currently undergoing an internal research misconduct investigation. In fact, the Principal Investigator of the Tennessee Tech study has not only removed his name from the study, but also returned his portion of the funding he received from Fitzgerald Glider Kits to conduct it. It is unclear why the Majority has shown absolutely no interest in this study, although it may be because they know that they may not like what they find.
Colleagues; this hearing should not distract us from the main issue at hand: repealing glider truck provisions based on one questionable industry-funded study would have severe consequences for public health. It is also important to note that the effects of repealing these provisions go beyond public health, with many members of the trucking industry standing alongside environmental and public health groups in opposition to the proposed repeal.
There are many opportunities for legitimate oversight within the jurisdiction of this Committee, and yet my colleagues across the aisle seem determined to prop up special interest groups, most often at the expense of public health. Today’s hearing on glider truck regulations is just another example. Even though Chairman Smith and some of his colleagues have made accusations of collusion between the EPA and Volvo, no representatives from either the EPA or Volvo were invited as witnesses today.
I also want to note that when preparing for this hearing, Minority staff reached out to the EPA to receive a briefing on the Agency’s glider emissions study under discussion today, but the EPA told the staff that the request would not be granted. We are being throttled from conducting legitimate oversight not only by the Majority, but also by this Administration.
I look forward to hearing testimony from Dr. Paul Miller, who can address the legitimate concerns surrounding the proposed repeal of these glider provisions, and describe the real-world consequences for states and the public if the production and sale of glider trucks without modern emissions controls are allowed to proliferate unchecked. And with that I yield back the balance of my time.