Officials: Cummins hit with largest ever Clean Air penalty

The U.S. Justice Department says a nearly $1.7 billion penalty against Cummins is the biggest ever for violations of clean air standards.

Officials revealed more details of the allegations against the Columbus-based engine manufacturer after the company announced last week that it would have a $2 billion charge in the next few days to settle its regulatory problems. That includes a $1.675 billion dollar penalty.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the California Air Resources Board, the Environment and Natural Resources Division of the Department of Justice and the California Attorney General’s Office made claims that Cummins installed emissions defeat devices on hundreds of thousands of engines. The devices override emissions control equipment such as sensors and computers in the vehicles.

The Justice Department says that the devices affected 990,000 RAM pickup truck engines between 2013 and 2023.

U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland released a statement on the penalties, saying “…preliminary estimates suggest that defeat devices on some Cummins engines have caused them to produce thousands of tons of excess emissions of nitrogen oxides.” Garland said those violations can inflict real harm on people because those pollutants can lead to asthma and respiratory infections.

The company says it has cooperated fully with regulators and has already addressed many of the issues involved. After an extensive internal review and working with regulators, the company has seen no evidence that anyone acted in bad faith and does not admit wrongdoing.

The Justice Department says that the agreement announced on Friday will be incorporated into a consent decree that will be filed with the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia.