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$3.55 Million Fine for Importing ATVs Without Emissions Testing

Friday, August 30, 2013
Sandler, Travis & Rosenberg Trade Report

The Environmental Protection Agency announced Aug. 29 that two Los Angeles-based consulting firms and their owner will pay a $3.55 million civil penalty to settle alleged Clean Air Act violations stemming from the illegal import of 24,478 all-terrain recreational vehicles from China without testing to ensure their emissions would meet applicable limits. An additional $60,000 civil penalty must be paid within six months.  

The EPA states that this enforcement action is part of an ongoing effort to ensure that all imported vehicles and engines comply with the CAA’s requirements. The CAA prohibits any vehicle or engine from being imported into or sold in the United States unless it is covered by a valid EPA-issued certificate of conformity demonstrating that it meets applicable federal emission standards. The CAA also prohibits any actions that cause the importation of uncertified vehicles or that cause recordkeeping violations. Similarly, the California Health and Safety Code prohibits any vehicle or engine from being distributed or sold in California unless it is covered by a valid ARB-issued executive order demonstrating that the vehicle or engine meets applicable California emission standards.

The EPA alleges that the L.A. firms arranged for emissions testing of a limited number of vehicles and then reused those results to obtain certificates of conformity for numerous other, dissimilar vehicles. The agency confirmed that the emissions of at least three of those vehicles exceeded the federal limits for hydrocarbons and nitrogen oxides.

As a result, the settlement also requires that for the next 15 years, before either the firms or their owner may engage in any further work involving non-road vehicles and engines, they must follow a rigorous compliance plan to ensure that any emissions testing and certification applications submitted to EPA or the California Air Resources Board accurately represent those vehicles and engines. Non-road vehicles and engines include recreational vehicles, generators, lawn and garden equipment, and other non-road internal combustion engines.

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