Caterpillar Inc. to Pay $2.55M to Resolve Clean Air Act Violations

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) announced a settlement with Caterpillar Inc. to resolve alleged Clean Air Act violations for shipping more than 590,000 highway and non-road diesel engines without the correct emissions controls. Caterpillar also allegedly failed to comply with emission control reporting and engine-labeling requirements. Caterpillar will pay a $2.55 million penalty, continue a recall of noncompliant engines and reduce excess emissions. Engines operating without proper emissions controls can emit excess nitrogen oxides (NOx), particulate matter and other air pollutants that affect people’s health, potentially causing respiratory illnesses and aggravating asthma.

"The enforcement of vehicle emissions standards, labeling and reporting requirements is critical to protecting the air we breathe and ensuring that companies play by the rules,” said Cynthia Giles, assistant administrator for EPA’s Office of Enforcement and Compliance Assurance. “Today’s settlement will protect public health and create a level playing field for companies that meet their environmental obligations.”

“This settlement demonstrates our commitment to enforcing the Clean Air Act’s requirement that engine manufacturers take steps to ensure engines are equipped with emissions controls that are essential to protecting public health from harmful air pollution,” said Ignacia S. Moreno, assistant attorney general for the Environment and Natural Resources Division of the Department of Justice. “Caterpillar will pay a substantial civil penalty for shipping engines that did not comply with these Clean Air Act requirements, and under this settlement, it must continue its recall and correction of engines that do not have correctly configured emissions controls.”

The Clean Air Act requires the use of certified after-treatment devices (ATDs) that control engine exhaust emissions once the emissions have exited the engine and entered the exhaust system. Typical ATDs include catalytic converters and diesel particulate filters. Correct fuel injector and fuel map settings are also crucial for proper engine emission control. Caterpillar allegedly shipped over 590,000 engines to vehicle assemblers without the correct ATDs and with improperly configured fuel injector and map settings. In some cases, the mis-configured engines were incorporated into vehicles which resulted in excess emissions of NOx and particulate matter into the environment.

The consent decree requires Caterpillar to continue its recall of non-compliant engines to install the correct ATDs and correct the fuel injector and fuel map settings. In addition to the recall, Caterpillar will mitigate the effects of the excess emissions from its engines through permanent retirement of banked emission credits. Caterpillar will also improve its reporting of emission control system defects, as required under the Clean Air Act.

The state of California, through the Air Resources Board, is also settling its claims for violations arising from the sale of improperly configured engines in California. California will receive $510,000 of the civil penalty.

The settlement was lodged today in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia and is subject to a 30-day public comment period

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