EPA used disavowed research to justify putting dirtier trucks on the road

At a time when acts of defiance against the Trump administration are ​​​​routine in Sacramento, the rebuke that breezed through the California Assembly this month still came as a jolt. Even Trump loyalists in the chamber joined in.

The message to the administration was clear: Forget about your plan to unleash on freeways a class of rebuilt trucks that spew as much as 400 times the choking soot that conventional new big rigs do. Getting caught behind the wheel of one of these mega-polluters in California would carry a punishing $25,000 minimum fine under the measure that lawmakers passed 73 to 0. It had the support of 25 Republicans.

"This was a reaction," said Chris Shimoda, vice president of government affairs for the California Trucking Assn., which sponsored the legislation. "A lot of people have made the investments to clean up their trucks. They don't want to see an obvious loophole that allows others to be gross polluters and undercut them."

Equally strong reactions are rippling across the country in response to the Trump administration's push to boost a cottage industry eager to sell trucks that run on rebuilt diesel engines. The trucks look new from the outside, but are equipped with repurposed motors that, according to the EPA's own experts, threaten to produce enough soot each year to cause up to 1,600 premature deaths.

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