One of our editorial board members was stuck behind one of those pollution-spewing small dump trucks while driving to the newspaper this week.
It was a reminder of how we take clean air for granted.
It was a reminder of how many of our cities — including New York City — were once choked with smog and pollution that endangered the health of residents.
It was with some dismay we learned how pleased Washington County’s shop supervisor was with the four new “glider kit” trucks the county purchased earlier this year.
The “glider trucks” repurpose old engines in new truck bodies to bypass reduced pollution standards. They are cheaper and get better gas mileage. But they are also estimated to produce 55 times more pollution than the modern truck.
Their use has been a political football in recent months as former Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt took steps to keep the “glider truck” loophole intact on his last day of office before resigning in early July.
But the U.S. Court of Appeals issued an emergency stay to enforce the stricter rules on “glider trucks” in response to a lawsuit by the Environmental Defense Fund.
Then on July 27, acting EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler acknowledged in a memo that the EPA was giving up the fight and would limit the number of new “glider trucks” to 300 while enforcing the stricter rules.
We don’t believe this will affect the use of Washington County’s “glider trucks,” but it does clarify that their use is not in the best interest of residents, especially anyone who gets stuck driving behind one.
We understand that Washington County was in a spot with its finances when it purchased the truck kits. The trucks with the new emissions systems cost more, and according to their shop supervisor, break down more often.
But these are the choices, and in some cases the sacrifices that we all need to make if we want to continue to have clean air and water. Taking care of the environment in which we live and work should be paramount for our county leaders.
It is a choice that consumers make every day.
While hybrid cars will save you money on gas, they often cost more than less fuel-efficient models. Consumers often make a choice based not only on what will save them money and what is good for the environment, but what they can afford.
That’s why these pollution standards are important for the government to maintain. It makes all of us more responsible for the environment in which we live, even if we are forced to do it.
These four “glider trucks” will probably not significantly damage the air in Washington County or the health of its residents, but we hope they are the last of their kind in our region.
Government bodies always need to put the health of their residents first.