A flip-flop on federal rules discouraging the building of glider kits upset part of the industry in mid-summer. On his last day at work, Scott Pruitt, the embattled chief of the Environmental Protection Agency, announced that EPA would not enforce Obama-era rules that, starting last January 1, greatly limit production of gliders with old diesels. Gliders essentially are trucks without powertrains, and usually use rebuilt or remanufactured diesels that predate modern exhaust emissions controls. He had been lobbied by representatives of Fitzgerald Gliders, who argued that glider making employed hundreds of workers who had assembled thousands of gliders, and helped many truckers who otherwise couldn’t afford new vehicles.
Howls of dismay came from environmentalists concerned with air pollution, from trucking industry groups whose members want to be “green,” and from truck and engine manufacturers who had spent billions of dollars developing ever-cleaner diesels to meet government emissions standards for new trucks. Even builders who produce gliders professed support for the stricter emissions standards.
Assailed by criticism, Pruitt’s successor, Andrew Wheeler, announced within a few weeks that EPA would enforce the tougher rules after all. They limit the number of gliders each company can produce to roughly 300 per year, and return the glider-kit concept to its original intent, which was to allow reuse of good components from a truck that had been wrecked. Some makers of front-discharge concrete mixer chassis had once seen a healthy portion of their business in glider production, but that’s now greatly curtailed.