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Cummins Inc. to pay nearly $1.7 billion to settle Clean Air Act violation

Posted at 11:13 AM, Dec 22, 2023
and last updated 2023-12-22 11:13:31-05

COLUMBUS — Columbus based engine manufacturer, Cummins Inc. will pay nearly $1.7 billion to settle an alleged violation of the Clean Air Act, the United States Department of Justice announced Friday.

This is the largest penalty for a Clean Air Act violation and the second largest ever environmental penalty.

According to the Unites States Department of Justice, Cummins Inc. violated the Clean Air Act by installing emissions defeat devices on hundreds of thousands of engines.

Emissions defeat devices are used to bypass emissions controls, such as emissions sensors that are in place to assure vehicles are complying with applicable emission limits.

Cummins Inc. allegedly installed defeat devices on 630,000 model year 2013 to 2019 RAM 2500 and 3500 pickup truck engines.

The company also allegedly installed undisclosed auxiliary emission control devices on 330,000 model year 2019 to 2023 RAM 2500 and 3500 pickup truck engines, according to the DOJ.

The Justice Department issued the following statement from Attorney General Merrick B. Garland:

“The Justice Department is committed to vigorously enforcing the environmental laws that protect the American people from harmful pollutants.

“Today, the Justice Department reached an initial agreement with Cummins Inc. to settle claims that, over the past decade, the company unlawfully altered hundreds of thousands of engines to bypass emissions tests in violation of the Clean Air Act. As part of the agreement, the Justice Department will require Cummins to pay $1.675 billion, the largest civil penalty we have ever secured under the Clean Air Act, and the second largest environmental penalty ever secured.

“The types of devices we allege that Cummins installed in its engines to cheat federal environmental laws have a significant and harmful impact on people’s health and safety. For example, in this case, our preliminary estimates suggest that defeat devices on some Cummins engines have caused them to produce thousands of tons of excess emissions of nitrogen oxides. The cascading effect of those pollutants can, over long-term exposure, lead to breathing issues like asthma and respiratory infections.

“The Justice Department will work diligently to incorporate today’s agreement into a consent decree that will be filed with the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia.

“I am grateful to the dedicated women and men of the Environment and Natural Resources Division, as well as to our partners from the EPA, and the State of California, for their assistance in investigating and prosecuting this case and in reaching this important agreement.

“Violations of our environmental laws have a tangible impact – they inflict real harm on people in communities across the country. This historic agreement should make clear that the Justice Department will be aggressive in its efforts to hold accountable those who seek to profit at the expense of people’s health and safety.”

Attorney General Merrick B. Garland

According to a statement from Cummins Inc., the company has recalled the model year 2019 RAM 2500 and 3500 trucks and have initiated a recall of model years 2013 through 2018 RAM 2500 and 3500 trucks.

"The company has cooperated fully with the relevant regulators, already addressed many of the issues involved, and looks forward to obtaining certainty as it concludes this lengthy matter. Cummins conducted an extensive internal review and worked collaboratively with the regulators for more than four years. The company has seen no evidence that anyone acted in bad faith and does not admit wrongdoing," Cummins Inc. said in a statement.