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Announcement of Settlement with Heavy Duty Diesel Manufacturers

10/22/1998
Carol M. Browner, Administrator
Environmental Protection Agency
Remarks Prepared for Delivery Announcement of
Settlement with Heavy Duty Diesel Manufacturers

                         Washington, DC
                        October 22, 1998


     Thank you Attorney General Reno. And thank you all for coming today. Attorney General, I am delighted to be here with you today to announce this historic action we take to stop illegal air pollution and clean up our air from harmful diesel emissions.

     The settlement announced today with the seven leading manufacturers of heavy duty diesel engines is one of the largest environmental enforcement actions in history. It is the largest action ever taken under the Clean Air Act. It involves the biggest civil penalty ever for violating an environmental law.  In all, total costs to the companies for violating the public's air, for violating the public's trust, will be more than $1 billion.

     Today, we're sending a clear message: If you illegally pollute, you will pay.  If you fail to meet your responsibility to protect public health and the environment, you will pay. If you violate our nation's environmental laws, you will pay.

     These seven companies sold engines equipped with devices designed to defeat federal anti-pollution controls.  These defeat devices are really "deceit" devices -- they defeat important public health protections and they deceive the American people.

     These illegal devices allow engines to pass EPA's emissions tests in the lab, but turn off pollution control equipment under normal driving conditions -- and all to cut a few corners on costs. These devices not only bypassed emissions controls, but jeopardized public health and the environment.

     We set air quality standards in this country to ensure that the air people breathe is safe, clean, and healthy. No person, no company has the right to violate these standards and put the American people at risk.

    The devices allowed these trucks to spew harmful pollution at levels that far exceeded our standards for healthy air. I'm talking about the release of smog-forming, soot-forming nitrogen oxides at as much as three times the legal limit. These companies' gain was the American people's great loss.

     Every year, smog and soot contribute to millions of cases of respiratory illnesses, including asthma, bronchitis, and reduced lung functioning, especially in children, the elderly, and other vulnerable groups.  In some cases, this pollution causes premature death.

     That's why this settlement is so significant.

     First, it will reduce environmental pollution more than any other enforcement action in EPA's history.  In this year alone, more than 1 million trucks are on the road with these illegal devices emitting an additional 1.3 million tons of nitrogen oxides. This is equal to the emissions from 65 million cars.

     Through today's action, 75 million tons of excess nitrogen oxides will be reduced between now and the year 2025. 75 million tons is equivalent to three years worth of nitrogen oxides emissions in the U.S. from all sources.

     Second, this settlement puts companies on a fast track toward pollution reductions. Last year, we proposed new, tighter emissions standards for diesel engines. This settlement requires the companies to meet these standards 15 months ahead of schedule -- in 2002. And to ensure that these engines meet our standards -- to ensure that this type of violation never happens again -- we'll use a new test that simulates actual driving conditions.

     Third, the settlement will spawn new research and development of anti-pollution technologies -- including new technologies for more fuel-efficient, less-polluting engines.

     Fourth, this settlement avoids a lengthy legal battle. Significantly faster and more effectively, it will provide the American people with the clean air they deserve and have long-been denied.  And it is a fair settlement allowing the companies to remain profitable.

     Let me take this opportunity to thank all the people involved in this landmark action -- the Justice Department, the California Air Resources Board, EPA, and the companies -- for the many, many long, hard hours you all put in to make this happen. What we have accomplished together is truly significant, truly historic.

     The most important gain from this settlement, however, is that the American people can rest assured that this administration is doing everything in its power to reduce pollution, clean the air, and enforce our environmental laws for today, for tomorrow, for all the generations to come.

     Thank you.