US Engine Manufacturer Facing Largest Clean Air Act Penalty Ever Over Emissions Test Cheating Accusations
American engine manufacturer Cummins Inc. is facing the largest Clean Air Act penalty in history, after accusations of emissions cheating. The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is suing Cummins, claiming they used “defeat devices” which allow their engines to pass emissions tests while still failing to meet applicable standards. A settlement is still in the works, but it’s already clear that the situation is not going to be cheap for Cummins.
Cummins had already come under scrutiny for their suspected emissions cheating on their heavy-duty diesel engines in 2017. This prompted a full investigation by the EPA, released in 2018, which accused Cummins of circumventing emission standards through the use of undisclosed and illegal software. This software reportedly works like a “defeat device”, allowing the engine to pass the actual emission tests, while still emitting considerably more pollutants when put into actual use.
The EPA proposed the steepest ever civil penalty for a violation of the Clean Air Act — a staggering 1.1 billion dollars — in addition to the significant fines paid by Cummins’ customers. The proposed penalty also includes additional corrective actions that Cummins would have to take, such as reducing its engines’ emissions levels as quickly as possible and paying to offset some of the pollution they have created.
The proposal has to be accepted by the Justice Department before it can go into effect, but if accepted, this would be the largest penalty ever imposed under the Clean Air Act. If Cummins is found guilty, they’ll face a steep bill for not only the penalty, but their reputational damage as well.
This is yet another piece of evidence to why companies should take emissions controls seriously. Not only is cheating on emissions tests against the law, but it also puts our air quality at risk and is a risk to the health of people and the environment. Companies must ensure that their engines are compliant with law and perform at the required standards. Otherwise, they could face the same fate as Cummins and pay the price in losses.