Diesel engine industry face $1Bn settlement

Seven American diesel engine manufacturers are facing a $1Bn settlement for air pollution, according to the US Justice Department and the US EPA. The total settlement is the largest Clean Air Act enforcement action in history, and includes an $83.4 million civil penalty, the largest in environmental enforcement history.

The companies – Caterpillar, Cummins Engine Company, Detroit Diesel Corporation, Mack Trucks, Navistar International Transportation Corporation, Renault Vehicules Industriels. and Volvo Truck Corporation – violated the Clean Air Act by allegedly installing devices that defeat emission controls.

The settlement is expected to prevent 75 million tons of nitrogen oxide (NOx) air pollution over the next 27 years; 75 million is more than the total US NOx emissions for three years. In addition, due to the settlement, the total NOx emissions from diesel engines will be reduced by one-third as of the year 2003. The companies make up 95 percent of the US heavy duty diesel engine market.

“The diesel engine industry has illegally poured millions of tons of pollution into the air. It’s time for the industry to clean up its act and clean up our air,” said Attorney General Janet Reno. “These companies needlessly cost themselves millions of extra dollars by not complying with the law in the first place. Today’s settlement shows that an ounce of compliance is worth a pound of penalties.”

The complaint alleges that the companies violated the Clean Air Act by selling heavy duty diesel engines equipped with ‘defeat devices’ – software that alters an engine’s pollution control equipment under highway driving conditions. The defeat devices allow engines to meet EPA emission standards during testing but disable the emission control system during normal highway driving. The Clean Air Act prohibits any manufacturer from selling any new motor vehicle engine equipped with any device designed to defeat the engine’s emission control system.

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