In a groundbreaking settlement, engine manufacturer Cummins Inc. has agreed in principle to pay a staggering $1.675 billion penalty in response to allegations of breaching the Clean Air Act. The settlement, set to be the largest ever for a Clean Air Act violation and the second-largest environmental penalty, centers on the installation of emissions defeat devices in engines powering Ram Heavy Duty pickups, a move that violated emission standards and regulatory compliance.
The Clean Air Act mandates strict adherence to emission limits for vehicle and engine manufacturers, ensuring the mitigation of harmful pollutants. Cummins Inc. was scrutinized for allegedly equipping approximately 630,000 units of 2013 to 2019 Ram 2500/3500 Heavy Duty pickup truck engines with defeat devices. These devices, whether in the form of parts or software, effectively bypass, disable, or manipulate emissions controls, such as emission sensors and onboard computers, leading to excessive emissions of nitrogen oxides.
Moreover, the company is accused of installing undisclosed auxiliary emission control devices on 330,000 model year 2019 to 2023 Ram 2500/3500 Heavy Duty pickup truck engines, further exacerbating the emission issue.
Attorney General Merrick B. Garland stressed the gravity of these violations, stating, “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 emphasized the tangible impact on public health, pointing out that “defeat devices on some Cummins engines have caused them to produce thousands of tons of excess emissions of nitrogen oxides,” which can lead to “breathing issues like asthma and respiratory infections.”
The Justice Department, in collaboration with the Environment and Natural Resources Division, the EPA, and the State of California, has worked rigorously on the case. This historic agreement underscores the commitment to holding accountable those who compromise public health and safety for profit.
The impending consent decree, to be filed with the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, will formalize the terms of the agreement. This settlement serves as a resounding message from the Justice Department, emphasizing its proactive stance against environmental law violations and dedication to safeguarding communities nationwide.
Ram has yet to release a statement on the settlement officially.