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EPA Penalties Upheld for Truck Engine Firms

September 07, 2002|From Associated Press

WASHINGTON — A federal court on Friday upheld steep penalties on truck engine makers that fail to meet new pollution-cutting requirements beginning next month, rejecting requests by two manufacturers that the mandates be postponed.

The Environmental Protection Agency last month said it would go ahead with the penalties, beginning Oct. 1, despite complaints from several manufacturers that they are unable to meet the requirements, which were part of a 1998 agreement.

Two manufacturers, Detroit Diesel Corp. and Caterpillar Inc., asked the court to change the agreement so they would have more time to comply. They argued that "unanticipated cost increases" had made compliance more onerous than expected.

But U.S. District Judge Henry Kennedy disagreed and on Friday denied the request.

The 1998 agreement between the Justice Department and half a dozen truck engine makers provides for penalties if manufacturers fail to meet tougher air pollution standards for their new engines, Kennedy wrote.

Caterpillar, based in Peoria, Ill., and Detroit Diesel face millions of dollars in penalties because they are unable to meet the Oct. 1 deadline under the 4-year-old agreement. Other manufacturers, including Cummins Inc. and Mack Trucks Inc., began developing new technologies more than a year ago and have said they will comply with the new standards.

The 1998 consent agreement grew out of a Justice Department investigation into charges that engine manufacturers and truckers were circumventing clean air requirements by overriding vehicles' emissions controls.

The new requirements are part of a push to reduce tailpipe emissions from diesel trucks and buses by as much as 90%.

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