Harley-Davidson to pay $15 million for cheating on clean air rules

Et tu, Harley-Davidson?

Court settlement includes mitigation and buy-back program

Staff Report

Volkswagen isn’t the only company to try and circumvent clean air rules. This week, Harley-Davidson agreed to pay a $12 million civil penalty for installing illegal devices that increase air pollution from their motorcycles.

Under the court-approved settlement, the company also agreed to spend $3 million to mitigate air pollution by replacing older wood stoves with cleaner heating units, and to  stop selling and to buy back and destroy the so-called super-tuners.

According to court documents, Harley-Davidson manufactured and sold about 340,000 of the devices, that, once installed, caused motorcycles to emit higher amounts of certain air pollutants than what the company certified to EPA. Aftermarket defeat devices like these super tuners alter a motor vehicle’s emissions controls and are prohibited under the Clean Air Act for use on vehicles that have been certified to meet EPA emissions standards.

Harley-Davidson also made and sold more than 12,000 motorcycles that were not covered by an EPA certification that ensures a vehicle meets federal clean air standards. The agency discovered the violations through a routine inspection and information Harley-Davidson submitted after subsequent agency information requests.

“This settlement immediately stops the sale of illegal aftermarket defeat devices used on public roads that threaten the air we breathe,” Cynthia Giles, assistant administrator for EPA’s Office of Enforcement and Compliance Assurance, said in a release. “Harley-Davidson is taking important steps to buy back the ‘super tuners’ from their dealers and destroy them, while funding projects to mitigate the pollution they caused.”

“Given Harley-Davidson’s prominence in the industry, this is a very significant step toward our goal of stopping the sale of illegal aftermarket defeat devices that cause harmful pollution on our roads and in our communities,” said Assistant Attorney General John C. Cruden, head of the Justice Department’s Environment and Natural Resources Division. “Anyone else who manufactures, sells, or installs these types of illegal products should take heed of Harley-Davidson’s corrective actions and immediately stop violating the law.”

According to the documents, Harley-Davidson has been making and selling the illegal super-tuners since 2008. The devices enable owners to modify parts of  a motorcycle’s emissions control system. These modified settings increase power and performance, but also increase the motorcycles’ emissions of hydrocarbons and nitrogen oxides (NOx). These tuners were sold at Harley-Davidson dealerships across the country.

The documents also allege that Harley-Davidson made and sold more than 12,000 motorcycles from model years 2006, 2007 and 2008 that were not covered by an EPA certificate of conformity.

Hydrocarbon and NOx emissions contribute to harmful ground-level ozone, and NOx also contributes to fine particulate matter pollution. Exposure to these pollutants has been linked with a range of serious health effects, including increased asthma attacks and other respiratory illnesses. Exposure to ozone and particulate matter has also been associated with premature death due to respiratory-related or cardiovascular-related effects. Children, the elderly, and people with pre-existing respiratory disease are particularly at risk of health effects from exposure to these pollutants.

The settlement, a proposed consent decree lodged in the United Stated District Court for the District of Columbia, is subject to a 30-day public comment period before it can be entered by the court as final judgment. To view the consent decree or to submit a comment, visit DOJ’s website:www.justice.gov/enrd/Consent_Decrees.html.

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