Controversial Glider Kit Environmental Study Comes Under Fire

February 20, 2018

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A study that played a key role in a recent EPA proposal to roll back glider kit restrictions has come under fire by the faculty of the Tennessee unversity that conducted it. Photo: Tom Berg
A study that played a key role in a recent EPA proposal to roll back glider kit restrictions has come under fire by the faculty of the Tennessee unversity that conducted it. Photo: Tom Berg

A Tennessee Technical University study that was funded by Fitzgerald Glider Kits and played a key role in reintroducing a glider kit loophole to the 2017 greenhouse gas regulations is being called into question by the faculty of TTU, who say that the questionable study hurts the reputation of the university.

After the Environmental Defense Fund attacked the study’s credibility earlier this year, the faculty of TTU requested an investigation into the study from the university president Phil Oldham that would submit the study to peer review, according to a report in the Herald Citizen. The study was conducted by TTU’s associate vice president of research Tom Brewer, who the faculty asked to be suspended pending the investigation’s outcome.

In addition to funding the research, Fitzgerald announced around the same time period in late 2017 that it would be building a new academic research center for TTU.

In the TTU faculty’s request to investigate the University’s study, it stated, “Our reputation and integrity as an institution and, by extension, the faculty, staff and students, are two of the most valuable assets of the university. Our reputation has recently been damaged because of a study funded by Fitzgerald Glider Kits and used to influence federal policy.”

The study in question purported to show that glider kits would not have a significant environmental impact and may actually pollute less than modern engines, going against an Obama-era EPA study that determined the opposite. The TTU study was used by Fitzgerald when it petitioned the EPA for the repeal of regulations restricting the use of glider kits under GHG Phase 2.

The study was also featured prominently in a recent Trump administration EPA proposal to repeal the glider kit restrictions, seeming to indicate that the agency, now led by Scott Pruitt, agreed with Fitzgerald’s reasoning.

During the Obama administration, the EPA capped the number of glider kits produced by any one company at 300 per year after a surge in production following the latest greenhouse gas emissions regulations. Some truck owners have found putting older pre-emissions engines in new glider kits offers both up-front price savings and maintenance savings over later engines with troublesome emissions aftertreatment gear.

Undue political influence?

In a recent New York Times report, the newspaper examined the relationships between Fitzgerald Glider Kits with political figures that may have allowed it to curry favor with the EPA. The Times found that Fitzgerald donated $225,000 to Rep. Diane Black's (R-TN) campaign for governor. Black unsuccessfully pushed to keep the glider kit loophole intact in 2015 and also reportedly played a role in introducing the TTU report to Scott Pruitt prior to the EPA’s proposal to rollback restrictions.

A spokesperson for Black told the Times that she was not influenced by the campaign contributions and was merely supporting her constituents. Tommy Fitzgerald, the owner of Fitzgerald, also characterized Black’s actions as "good public policy" because of the number of jobs at stake as a result of the EPA’s decisions.

In addition to environmental interest groups, the glider kit loophole is opposed by some truck and engine manufacturers, such as Cummins, Volvo and Navistar, who say that the loophole unfairly favors groups that are skirting the official emissions regulations and may encourage more dealers to enter the glider business, further compounding the issue.


  1. 1. Kenny Scott [ February 21, 2018 @ 03:58AM ]

    The EPA should be put out of business. They have been been putting honest people out of work for years with their lies. Southern Ohio has never recovered from the acid rain lie in the seventies. The American people voted for less regulations and it is time to have our way. I’m am sick to death with liberals and their lies. But also the large Truck engine manufacturers have been making a good living fixing their junk so in the end the little guy will lose if we don’t fight back.

  2. 2. Marvin [ February 21, 2018 @ 05:03AM ]

    "Environmental Defense Fund" ? Nothing political there.......nope! And those poor faculty members at TTU? Sure wouldn't want them to grow a set of balls......nosireeee! This study went against the narrative and the gloves are coming off because they sure don't want anyone to know that it's largely a scam.

  3. 3. Marvin [ February 21, 2018 @ 05:32AM ]

    You are correct Kenny. A simple common-sense look at what is happening in regards to saving the planet has been killing the little man from farmers to truckers and store owners. Government long ago forgot that it was designed to work for the people. The attitude now is that people must succumb for the government. Therefore a money flow was started from those capable of paying to prevent any harm to their line of business. And we all know that those in government today would eat their own young for the right amount of money. Adding insult to injury, we now have nearly half the country on the dole and they surely would never vote themselves out of free stuff. Actually it's a success story, if you think about it, that we've gotten to this point without much of a fight.

  4. 4. John Baxter [ February 21, 2018 @ 06:33AM ]

    The above comments are all pure BS. You may not like the cost of DPFs and SCR systems, but they not only work, they eliminate thousands of tons of pollutants that scientists know harm you, the poorly informed folks who think they know more than the experts. We all dream of a simpler world. If you don't like the present regulations, go invent a better way to clean up the diesel engine!

  5. 5. Clay [ February 21, 2018 @ 06:35AM ]

    an emission engine today is nothing but a worthless money pit that does not work! It has a bigger impact on the environment due to design and function. A proper tuned pre-emission engine is the only way to go.

  6. 6. Earl Scott [ February 21, 2018 @ 07:09AM ]

    To John Baxter: DPF and SCR works. Been doing this 28 yrs. Never had any issues, until I started driving 2008 and newer trucks. Been towed, and broke down more times, than I can count. Always the emissions. Spent $13,000.00 in 10 days just on regen. Truck had less than 50,000 miles. Your so called experts, have been caught lying more than once. Check out the lawsuit CARB lost. Due to there incompetence. Ask the FEDEX driver who caught on fire, in California. Oh I forgot, he died in the accident. But I am sure your so called experts, and the Government will tell you, it was his fault. I know a big company, just rotates there trucks to the dealership because they have no room, for all the trucks breaking down. Owner operators can not afford to be broke down every month. But I am sure you work for a big company, and it does not effect you. I remember when this all started, they did not even have machines to measure pollutants to billionths. It took them 2 years to make the machine. We all know the Government has never lied, and they are here to help the non working man or woman. The working man and woman, will be a thing of the past. In the United States anyway. Are country will fall just like Rome. Rotting from the inside out. Because of people like you. People just want to provide for there families. But the Government does it's best, to try and stop us. Anybody who talks to me about trucking, I tell them to do anything but drive a truck. To many regulations, that helps no one.

  7. 7. CA trucker [ February 21, 2018 @ 07:24AM ]

    Gentlemen, everything you say about false science is off the wall. Let's leave the science to scientists and truck driver to truck drivers. When tens of thousands of scientists around the world say the same thing do you really think it's a mass conspiracy?

    While Mr. Trump tries to save coal China is cornering the market on electric battery production and a nation of zero emission vehicles. Coal is dying a natural death because the economics make it a reality not because of a war on coal.

    Diesel power will follow the same path sooner or later. In the meantime we have to clean it up. Raise your rates enough to cover the additional purchase cost and the additional maintenance and move on.

    I say this with all due respect to your (and my) plight.

  8. 8. Paul [ February 21, 2018 @ 08:55AM ]

    The glider kit findings got poo poo’d because it does not fit the EPA narrative. I live in Ca. and they are the ones that always start the b.s.. The original study that started all this crap was written by a man who was supposed to be the leader in his field, only to find out he bought his degree online for $3,600. CARB. (California Air Resources Board) KNEW the report was garbage BEFORE the rules were put in place and ENACTED THEM ANYWAY! Mary Nichols and her band of communists is the organization that needs to be disbanded! I long for the day’s of the 3406E single turbo power that just ran and ran and ran with no check engine light is the most active light on my dash! And by the way...the ELD may be the final nail in the owner operator coffin,

  9. 9. Richard Davis [ February 21, 2018 @ 10:09AM ]

    Well, Kenny. I guess since you're sick to death of liberals and their lies, you are sick to death of Trump, because he lies everyday, day after day after day. He could fix this, he did say he was going to do away with bad regulations that cost jobs and money. Oh, that was just a republican lie. I see one guy said he spent 13,000.00 on his engine in 10 days. I spent 20,000.00 on my EGR-cramp in less than a year. Still didn't fix it. The Government, not just one side, is to blame on almost everything. They go the way of, who pads there pockets the most. Just like in the tobacco industry years ago. The Government regulated them, I'm sure told them how much nicotine to put in cigarettes, knowing all along it was addictive. They didn't care, the more people smoked, the more tax money they collected. They really don't want cars/trucks to get better mileage, that's less money they collect. The Government passes these stupid regulations and don't really care who it negatively effects as long as they get their money. They pass them and let everyone else deal with them. Who knows how many wrecks and deaths there are because drivers are following the Government regulations and laws. Can't sleep/stop when they need to sleep/stop only when the Regulation tells them it is time.

  10. 10. TOPDOG [ February 21, 2018 @ 09:40PM ]

    They have used the two-party system to divide and conquer the American people. We would all benefit if the Republican Party went belly-up.
    Diane Black; Anyone this ignorant and uneducated about marijuana, or anything else, should never be allowed into any position of responsibility. The Republican Party has been denounced by every civilized country on Earth and many of its members also denounced as human beings. As bad as the Disgusting Democrats are, do you really wish to vote one of these despots into office?Diane Black should be removed from any public office on ethics violations alone. She and her equally greedy elitist husband have turned the war on marijuana into their own private cottage industry. Much of their fortune was made from profiteering off of the drug war. She does not represent me nor the educated majority of Tennesseans. These greedy corporate puppets and Authoritarians are a blight on all free people in any government anywhere. We should all struggle to remove or reform the Republican Party.PLEASE DO NOT VOTE THIS CREATURE INTO OFFICE.

  11. 11. Marvin [ February 22, 2018 @ 05:09AM ]

    That's incredible that you've taken an article about the future of glider kits and turned it into a vicious personal attack on an elected official that you don't like. The context of your attack could fit nearly all elected officials in Washington DC and most state capitals but sadly you didn't mention any of the deplorable policies from both that have harmed our industry. You also never once mentioned anything about the issue of glider kits being available in the future. Sitting on the side lines and lobbing grenades doesn't solve many problems! I would ask if you took any time to comment on the issue while there was time to do It?

  12. 12. Michael Galorath [ February 24, 2018 @ 08:10AM ]

    Wow I do understand that it's first the glider kits. Then it will be reman engines. I've re-powered car's, motor homes and class 8 vehicles. I'm waiting for the day where they outlaw collector cars period. Obama and the EPA has already tried and failed once. Be rest assured the day will come.


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