Last Friday, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) filed a lawsuit against a used truck seller based in Windham, Maine. According to the agency’s press release, APlus committed more than 50 instances of vehicle tampering over a two-year period. The complaint, filed by the EPA’s Region 1, serving the New England area, seeks a penalty of $168,700 for the dealership’s alleged illegal sale and installation of aftermarket parts that disable or bypass emission control systems.
From 2017 to 2019, the EPA alleges, the used car seller tampered with emission controls on diesel vehicles using so-called “defeat devices.” These affect vehicle emission control systems and are reportedly illegal to make and sell under the federal Clean Air Act (CAA) because their usage results in the excessive emission of pollutants like nitrogen oxides (NOx) and particulate matter. The EPA’s vehicle emission standards require engine manufacturers to carefully calibrate their engines and install sophisticated emissions control systems, which defeat devices serve bypass, the agency said.
NOx and particulate matter emissions adversely effect human health, the press release noted. Health impacts allegedly include aggravated asthma, decreased lung function, and respiratory symptoms such as irritation of the airways, coughing, or difficulty breathing, among other more severe consequences.
“This action sends a strong message that tampering with emission controls on vehicles will not be tolerated,” EPA New England Acting Regional Administrator Deb Szaro said in a statement. “Emission control systems on vehicles are designed to protect public health by reducing pollution. To ensure that we all have access to clean air, it is critical that vehicle repair facilities comply with the Clean Air Act.”
The lawsuit is part of the EPA’s National Compliance Initiative: Stopping Aftermarket Defeat Devices for Vehicles and Engines. So far, the agency has completed 31 civil enforcement actions, the largest number of resolutions “for tampering and aftermarket defeat devices for any one year in the agency’s history.” The efforts have reportedly stopped 18.2 million pounds of harmful emissions from mobile air sources entering the atmosphere.