Congressman Diane Black says she stands by her decision to intervene in a dispute between an East Tennessee trucking company and the Environmental Protection Agency.
That's even though Tennessee Tech University has walked back a study that it did — and that Black cited — supporting the company.
The issue centers on how to regulate emissions from semi trucks — specifically a variety that uses rebuilt diesel engines. The EPA worried these so-called glider trucks produced more pollution than brand-new semis with modern emissions controls. Some in the agency even wanted to take glider trucks off the road completely.
That threatened a privately held company in Crossville called Fitzgerald Glider Kits. It turned to Black to intervene, so she wrote a letter to the EPA on Fitzgerald's behalf.
She says using her influence was the right thing to do.
"This is a very small trucking company that provides very good jobs for those small, rural communities that really struggle," she says. "And I think this is a David and Goliath issue where the big trucking companies do not want to see someone be competition to them."
The company and its top officers went on to donate more than $200,000 to Black's campaign. Still, she says she has no second thoughts about helping it.
Tennessee Tech, however, is reconsidering its support for Fitzgerald. The company has been a university benefactor, and many faculty worry that might have unduly swayed researchers. The school is now conducting an internal investigation.