It’s Thursday, July 19, and a D.C. District Court just sewed up an EPA loophole.

Grist / Fitzgerald Glider Kits

You may have heard that, after a bazillion scandals, Scott Pruitt is no longer the administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency. However, on his very last day, the beleaguered cabinet official handed industry one last win. With the help of a loophole, he decided not to enforce existing EPA standards for “super-polluting” trucks. EPA’s acting head Andrew Wheeler then decided to preserve Pruitt’s decision when he took office.

But a D.C. appeals court ruled to suspend that move yesterday, blocking Pruitt’s attempt to deliver a parting suckerpunch to the environment. The Environmental Defense Fund, the Center for Biological Diversity, and the Sierra Club filed the motion to suspend, and plan to present a case to the court to reverse the EPA’s decision entirely.

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The trucks in question, called gliders, are considered super-polluting because they’re made by putting old diesel engines into brand new freight truck chassis. Putting old engines in new trucks means gliders are roughly 25 percent cheaper than cleaner, modern trucks.

What’s the real cost of cheaper gliders? EPA testing found that they emit 450 times more particulate pollution than their modern counterparts. And an an analysis from the EDF found that Pruitt’s decision could lead to 1,700 premature deaths.

If environmental groups have their way, gliders will be a thing of the past before Pruitt’s multiple ethics investigations are resolved.

Zoya Teirstein

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Smog clouds

The Smog

Need-to-know basis

Looks like a national price on pollution isn’t happening soon. In a resolution passed today, the House of Representatives denounced a carbon fee, saying it would be bad for the economy. The result doesn’t portend well for a Republican-backed carbon tax expected to be introduced next week by Carlos Curbelo, a House Republican and 2017 Grist 50 member.

When it comes to lobbying, the fossil fuel industry is outspending environmentalists big time — by a factor of 10. A new report from a Drexel University sociology professor found that more than $2 billion was spent lobbying Congress on climate legislation between 2000 and 2016. But funds supporting fossil fuel interests drowned out cash from environmental groups and renewable energy boosters.

That fresh air you breathe while enjoying the great outdoors may not be so fresh. Turns out that, when it comes to ozone levels, the air in U.S. National Parks is just as polluted as the air in large U.S. cities, according to a study published in Nature this week. Inhaling polluted ozone can lead to respiratory irritation and exacerbate asthma.

Greta Jochem


Hey! Grist’s staffers don’t just make great things to read, we like to read, too. Here’s a sample of stories we’ve read recently that we’d recommend you check out. Read up!

News editor Kate Yoder suggests Surrendering to Rising Seas, an article about how coastal communities are adapting to sea-level rise by Jen Schwartz for Scientific American.

Curious about the psychology behind climate denial? Editor Nikhil Swaminathan has you covered with an article about how ranchers in North Dakota dealt with the repercussions of a flash drought. The piece was written by Meera Subramanian for Inside Climate News.

Feel like summer is moving too quickly? I certainly do. I saw this poem on the subway in New York a few months ago, and have been thinking about it ever since. Take a break from the news for a second and check it out.

— Zoya Teirstein

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