EPA Proposes Reopening Dangerous Loophole That Would Keep Dirty Trucks on the Road

WASHINGTON (Nov. 9, 2017) – The Environmental Protection Agency today proposed repealing modern emissions standards for freight trucks that combine an old engine with a new frame. The Obama administration closed the loophole when it updated clean air safeguards for medium- and heavy-duty trucks in 2016.

The following is a statement from Luke Tonachel, director of NRDC’s Clean Vehicles and Fuels Project:

Reopening this loophole is an unconscionable move that could cause the premature deaths of 1,600 Americans from just one year of dirty truck sales. Instead of letting these dirty trucks keep spewing up to 40 times more pollution than modern big rigs, the EPA should protect the air we all breathe from this dangerous threat.”


The EPA tightened emissions standards for smog-forming nitrogen oxide (NOx) emissions and fine particulate matter (PM) pollution that heavy-duty freight trucks must meet in 2010. But a loophole has let manufacturers of big rigs assembled from dirty, old engines and new frames keep using pre-2010 engines that don’t comply with the latest clean-air protections. EPA estimates these engines typically emit 20 to 40 times more pollution than the modern, cleaner engines that major truck manufacturers now make.

This harmful loophole has caused sales of trucks with old, dirty engines to skyrocket from a few hundred a year to as many as 10,000 annually, because they cost about 25 percent less than new trucks. Extra pollution from one year of 10,000 dirtier truck sales could lead to 1,600 premature deaths. Yearly sales represent just five percent of all freight trucks manufactured annually but are responsible for one-third the total NOx and PM pollution from all new heavy trucks, according to EPA.

The Obama administration closed the loophole with broad support from major truck manufacturers and dealers when it updated emissions standards for all freight trucks in 2016. New trucks should meet modern emissions standards in January 2018.

Manufacturers that use old truck engines lobbied EPA to reconsider the rule in July. EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt even met personally with officials from the company that assembles most of these dirty trucks. Now Administrator Pruitt wants to put Americans’ health at risk and give these companies an unfair competitive advantage by reopening the dirty truck loophole.


he Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) is an international nonprofit environmental organization with more than 3 million members and online activists. Since 1970, our lawyers, scientists, and other environmental specialists have worked to protect the world's natural resources, public health, and the environment. NRDC has offices in New York City, Washington, D.C., Los Angeles, San Francisco, Chicago, Bozeman, MT, and Beijing. Visit us at www.nrdc.org and follow us on Twitter @NRDC.​





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