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Exclusive–Swamp Bazaar: The Tale of a Lobbyist-Drafted Letter, a West Virginia Congressman, and an Obama-Era EPA Rule Protection

Volvo Truck
PAUL J. RICHARDS/AFP/Getty Images

Rep. Evan Jenkins (R-WV), a candidate for U.S. Senate, originally denied and then admitted to circulating a letter urging fellow lawmakers to support protection of an Obama-era trucking rule.

A separate report suggests that the letter was allegedly written by a Volvo lobbyist, but Jenkins claims that the lobbyist-drafted letter is different than the one he admits to circulating. 

Steve Milloy, a Trump Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) transition team member, details in a report on his blog that Congressman Jenkins circulated a letter urging fellow lawmakers to retain the EPA’s glider rule. Using meta-data gleaned from the letter’s file, Milloy argued that the rule was allegedly written by John Miceli–a registered lobbyist for Volvo.

When first asked about the matter, Jenkins denied everything altogether. But then, when confronted with proof he did go to bat for the lobbyists’ position in favor of the EPA rule from the Obama-era, he admitted to circulating a letter–but now claims it was a different letter than the one Milloy posted on his blog. It remains unclear if it is true that the letter Jenkins admits to circulating is actually a different letter. Also unclear is if the letter he admits to circulating is actually different, then how different from the lobbyist-drafted version is it?

During the Obama administration, the EPA created a new rule to regulate glider trucks the same way as new trucks. Glider trucks are built by pairing a new chassis with an older diesel engine and powertrain. Glider trucks cost roughly 25 percent less compared to new trucks, making them more affordable for America’s trucking industry. 

Milloy contends that the Obama-era regulation “would have essentially shuttered the glider industry.”

The former Trump EPA transition team member wrote in an op-ed in the Wall Street Journal that Volvo and other trade associations have fought to extend new truck greenhouse emissions to glider trucks.

Milloy wrote:

Led by the likes of Volvo and trade groups, rulemaking documents show the new truck industry urged the Obama EPA in 2016 to add gliders to a then-ongoing rulemaking regulating truck greenhouse gas emissions. The problem, however, was the Clean Air Act only authorizes EPA to regulate emissions from new trucks and gliders are not new trucks. But that didn’t stop the Obama EPA.

But anti-glider forces, including Volvo, began re-lobbying EPA after the July filing of Fitzgerald’s petition, according to lobbying disclosure records. Somehow by October, without the knowledge or authorization of Pruitt according to EPA staff, an EPA laboratory in Ann Arbor, MI ran two glider trucks through an emissions testing protocol. The resulting report, also released without the knowledge or approval of Pruitt, concluded the tested gliders exceeded new truck emissions of nitrogen oxide, particulate and other conventional pollutants.

Last November, the EPA under Administrator Scott Pruitt moved to shield the glider truck industry from the Obama-era rule.

The agency wrote:

In proposing a new interpretation of the relevant statutory language, EPA now believes that its prior reading was not the best reading, and that the Agency failed to consider adequately the most important threshold consideration: i.e., whether or not Congress, in defining ‘new motor vehicle’ … had a specific intent to include … such a thing as a glider vehicle – a vehicle comprised both of new and previously owned components.

Milloy then posts a document including a draft letter to the EPA from members of Congress that would urge the protection of the EPA rule that Milloy alleges Jenkins was circulating around to colleagues on Capitol Hill.

“Below is the letter that Rep. Evan Jenkins (WV-3) is reportedly currently circulating on behalf of the new truck industry to kill off the glider truck industry,” Milloy writes while posting a screenshot of the letter–that has no text identifying it as coming from Jenkins. He also links to an upload of the letter file onto his website.

Milloy then includes a second screenshot that relays to readers how if they “click on the ‘Properties’ of the document, it shows” that the author is “Miceli John” who works at the “Company” “Volvo.” In other words, as Milloy noted, the draft letter that he alleges Jenkins was circulating is authored by registered Volvo lobbyist John Miceli.

At first, when confronted with the Milloy blog post, Jenkins denied to Breitbart News that he was circulating the letter and called Milloy’s post “not true.”

“Yesterday’s blog post is not true,” Jenkins told Breitbart News. “My office and I did not circulate this letter, nor did I send this letter to the EPA.”

But, after receiving that denial, Breitbart News confirmed that Jenkins had in fact been circulating a letter on this matter–confirmation received from at least three separate Capitol Hill offices including two senior House GOP staffers and one senior Senate GOP staffer.

So, when confronted again after these confirmations, Jenkins admitted the existence of a letter he was circulating urging the EPA to keep the Obama-era glider rule–and claims that the letter he is circulating is different from the Volvo-lobbyist-drafted letter.

Jenkins told Breitbart News:

I was contacted about the issue by Worldwide Equipment in West Virginia, which Vice President Pence visited just a few weeks ago to praise their new investments thanks to tax reform. After this major local employer shared with me how this regulation is threatening jobs in West Virginia, I drafted a different letter regarding the issue that reflects the concerns of my constituents. After receiving requests from multiple congressional offices on doing a letter, we then circulated this draft – which is not the version posted on Junk Science that you inquired about – to those offices to gather their feedback and input.

Jenkins, who is running for U.S. Senate in West Virginia, faces a competitive and uphill primary race against West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey. Morrisey, who is considered the frontrunner, served as one of the lead plaintiffs against the Obama-era EPA’s Clean Power Plan climate change regulation. Morrisey’s campaign has been gaining steam in West Virginia, while Jenkins is failing to get traction in the race after his history as a Democrat–he was previously a Democratic Party member and backed Hillary Clinton for president in 2008, only switching parties later in life–has come to the fore. Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker also endorsed Morrisey for the U.S. Senate race in February, while Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is all in for Jenkins’ struggling campaign.

This is yet another setback for Jenkins, about whose episode with the Volvo lobbyist Milloy wrote in his blog post: “Hey that’s how the swamp works.”

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