Cummins Inc. Fined $1.675 Billion for Clean Air Act Violations

The company allegedly installed defeat devices on 630,000 Ram 2500 and 3500 pickup trucks between model years 2013 and 2019.

The penalty is the largest in the history of the Clean Air Act and second-largest environmental penalty ever.

Cummins Inc. agreed to pay a historic $1.675 billion penalty to the U.S. and the State of California for violating the Clean Air Act by installing emissions defeat devices on hundreds of thousands of engines, marking the largest civil penalty in the act's history and the second-largest environmental penalty ever.

According to the press release, Cummins Inc. allegedly equipped 630,000 model year 2013 to 2019 Ram 2500 and 3500 pickup truck engines with defeat devices. These devices are designed to bypass, defeat or render inoperative crucial emissions controls such as emission sensors and onboard computers. Additionally, the company is accused of installing undisclosed auxiliary emission control devices on 330,000 model year 2019 to 2023 Ram 2500 and 3500 pickup truck engines.

U.S. Attorney General Merrick B. Garland emphasized the commitment to enforcing environmental laws that safeguard American citizens 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,” Garland said.

The penalty is not just a financial hit to Cummins Inc. but also a statement of the Justice Department's aggressive stance against environmental law violations. Preliminary estimates suggest the defeat devices in question caused Cummins engines to emit thousands of tons of excess nitrogen oxides, significantly impacting public health and safety. Long-term exposure to these pollutants can lead to severe health issues, including asthma and respiratory infections.

The Justice Department will work to incorporate this agreement into a consent decree, which will be filed with the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia. Garland expressed gratitude to the teams from the Environment and Natural Resources Division, the EPA and the State of California for their roles in investigating and prosecuting this case.

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