House Speaker J. Dennis Hastert (R-Ill.) and a coalition of Republican colleagues, manufacturers, and trucking industry reps are pressuring the Bush administration to postpone a strict new anti-pollution standard for diesel trucks. Why? Because Illinois-based Caterpillar, Inc., one of the leading manufacturers of 18-wheel diesel tractor-trailers and a significant Republican campaign contributor, could face millions of dollars in fines for failing to meet the upcoming Oct. 1 deadline to comply with the standard. The anti-pollution measure calls for dramatically reduced nitrogen oxide emissions, which cause acid rain and respiratory problems, but the industry contends that it hasn’t been given enough time to test new engines and that the cost of developing them would be prohibitive. The U.S. EPA and the Justice Department have already turned down a request for postponement by Caterpillar and the American Trucking Associations. Officials at the agencies defend the rule as an important public health measure and say the industry is exaggerating the economic obstacles.

Grist thanks its sponsors. Become one.