WASHINGTON — Officials with engine manufacturer Cummins Inc. say they have reached an agreement in principle with the United States and State of California to pay a $1.675 billion penalty to settle claims that it violated the Clean Air Act by installing emissions defeat devices on hundreds of thousands of engines.
The Clean Air Act requires vehicle and engine manufacturers to ensure that their products comply with applicable emission limits.
Defeat devices are parts or software that bypass, defeat or render inoperative emissions controls, such as emission sensors and onboard computers, according to a news release from the U.S. Justice Department.
The company 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.
In a statement, Cummins said it did not admit any wrongdoing and that it had no evidence its employees acted in bad faith. A spokesperson for Stellantis, which owns the RAM truck brand, did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
“The Justice Department is committed to vigorously enforcing the environmental laws that protect the American people from harmful pollutants,” said Attorney General Merrick B. Garland. “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.”
Garland went on to say, “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.”
Garland said 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.”
Garland concluded, “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.”
Born in Pine Bluff, Arkansas, and raised in East Texas, John Worthen returned to his home state to attend college in 1998 and decided to make his life in The Natural State. Worthen is a 20-year veteran of the journalism industry and has covered just about every topic there is. He has a passion for writing and telling stories. He has worked as a beat reporter and bureau chief for a statewide newspaper and as managing editor of a regional newspaper in Arkansas. Additionally, Worthen has been a prolific freelance journalist for two decades, and has been published in several travel magazines and on travel websites.