Major Manufacturer Hit With Second-Largest Environmental Fine Ever

(Photo by MANDEL NGAN/AFP via Getty Images)

Hailey Gomez General Assignment Reporter
Font Size:

Engine manufacturer Cummins Inc. agreed to pay over $1.6 billion in a penalty settlement after claims it bypassed a clean emission limit for vehicles and engine manufacturers, according to the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ).

Cummins Inc. violated the Clean Air Act (CAA) by installing “emissions defeat devices on hundreds of thousands of engines,” the DOJ’s Office of Public Affairs said in a Friday press statement on the agreement with the engine manufacturer. Attorney General Merrick Garland commented on the settlement, stating it was the “second largest penalty ever secured.” (RELATED: House Passes EPA Spending Bill That Defunds Several Biden Climate Initiatives)

“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,” Garland stated.

“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 CAA, a federal law, regulates air emissions from both stationary and mobile sources, according to the U.S. Enviromental Protection Agency. To avoid requirements that vehicles and engine manufacturers ensure products comply with the “applicable emission limits,” the engine manfacturer allegedly installed “defeat devices,” according to the press statement. The devices “are parts or software that bypass, defeat, or render inoperative emissions controls such as emission sensors and onboard computers,” according to the DOJ. (RELATED: ‘Still Invading’: Gov’t Goes To War With One Owl Species To Save Another)

Cummins Inc. allegedly installed the devices onto “630,000 model year 2013 to 2019 RAM 2500 and 3500 pickup truck engines,” according to the DOJ. Additionally, the company allegedly installed “undisclosed auxiliary emission control devices on 330,000 model year 2019 to 2023 RAM 2500 and 3500 pickup truck engines,” the DOJ reported. 

“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,” Garland stated. 

“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.”

Following the release of the DOJ’s statement, Cummins Inc. claimed it does not admit to any wrongdoing, according to CBS News. The engine manufacturer noted it had “cooperated fully” with regulators, claiming they had “seen no evidence that anyone acted in bad faith,” according to the outlet.