Diane Black defends campaign checks, trucking emissions loophole

FILE - In this March 10, 2017 file photo, House Budget Committee Chair Rep. Diane Black, R-Tenn. speaks on Capitol Hill in Washington. House Republicans on Tuesday, July 18, 2017, unveiled a budget that makes deep cuts in food stamps and other social safety net programs while boosting military spending by billions, a blueprint that pleases neither conservatives nor moderates. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite, File)

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) – Rep. Diane Black is defending efforts to extend an emissions loophole benefiting a Tennessee-based trucking company whose entities, executives and family gave her gubernatorial campaign $225,000, as The New York Times reported.

Campaign spokesman Chris Hartline said Thursday the congresswoman fights to support the few companies trying to keep rural Tennessee manufacturing jobs. Hartline says Black has fought a President Barack Obama-era diesel emissions rule since 2014.

The Times reported Black asked U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt to continue exempting rebuilt diesel engines, which trucks from Fitzgerald Glider Kits use.

The Times reported that Black cited a Fitzgerald-funded Tennessee Technological University study downplaying the trucks’ pollution problems, and Fitzgerald promised the university a new research center.

Tennessee Democratic Party chairwoman Mary Mancini called Black’s behavior “pay to play.”