Cummins Inc., a giant in engine manufacturing, recently found itself at the heart of a major environmental controversy. The company has reached an agreement with the U.S. federal government and the State of California to settle charges related to its emission certification process for certain engines used primarily in pickup trucks. According to the U.S. Department of Justice, Cummins will have to pay a fine of 1.675 billion dollars for violating the Clean Air Act. This violation involves the installation of so-called ‘defeat devices’ on hundreds of thousands of engines.

Emission defeat devices, used in certain vehicles like RAMs equipped with Cummins engines, are sophisticated systems designed to bypass environmental standards. Cummins has stated it has fully cooperated with the concerned regulators, claiming to have already resolved many of the issues raised.

The DOJ accused Cummins of installing defeat devices on 630,000 RAM 2500 and 3500 engines, models 2013 to 2019. The company also allegedly installed undeclared auxiliary emission control devices on 330,000 engines of 2019 to 2023 models. In response, Cummins has already recalled the 2019 model year RAM 2500 and 3500 and initiated a recall of 2013 to 2018 models, having already set aside 59 million dollars for the estimated costs of these recalls and other related actions.

Cummins plans to record a charge of about 2.04 billion dollars in the fourth quarter of 2023 to resolve these and other related issues, concerning approximately one million pickup applications in the United States. Of this amount, about 1.93 billion dollars would correspond to planned payments for the first half of 2024.

Attorney General Merrick B. Garland emphasized that the 1.675 billion dollar fine is ‘the largest ever obtained under the Clean Air Act, and the second-largest environmental penalty in history.’ He added that the incriminated devices have a significant and harmful impact on the environment, causing notably excessive emissions of nitrogen oxides and potentially leading to long-term respiratory problems. Garland concluded that this penalty should clearly show that the Department of Justice will be firm in its efforts to hold accountable those who seek to profit at the expense of the environment, impacting the health and safety of people.


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