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Cummins Is Forced To Pay The Largest Civil Penalty In History

2020 2021 2022 2023 2024 Ram Heavy Duty HD 2500 3500 Towing Tow Mirrors
Photo via Stellantis.

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has been cracking down on emission regulations, hitting almost every company with a fine for violating the Clean Air Act. The most recent company to get hit with penalties has been eBay, despite having made attempts to avoid it. But now things are moving into the heart of the diesel industry. Cummins, known for building fantastic diesel engines that can be found within several trucks (specifically Ram) is facing the largest Clean Air Act civil penalty in history, and the second largest environmental penalty in American history, for allegedly installing emission defeat devices or software on nearly a million Ram 2500 and 3500 pickup trucks between 2013 and 2023.

Critics of the ruling say that the EPA is penalizing Cummins for making diesel engines more efficient and reliable, as most emissions mitigation systems reduce power, reduce fuel economy, and shorten the lifespan of engines. What’s worse, the EPA rarely, if ever, provides guidance, suggestions, or funding for adhering to such mandates. They just proverbially snap their fingers.

Cummins vs. EPA: Details

Without much of a fight, Cummins Inc. agreed to pay a $1.675 billion USD. Of that, $1.48 billion will go to the federal government and $164 million to California. Moreover, Cummins will pay another $325 million to fund projects in communities across the nation to make up for the excess air pollution, including a lump sum of $175 million to California.

In a statement, Cummins said “the company has seen no evidence that anyone acted in bad faith and does not admit wrongdoing.”

The formal announcement of the settlement resulted in a recall covering 600,000 trucks. Members from the DOJ, EPA, and California Air Resources Board are all unified in their statement that Cummins blatantly cheated the system. David M. Uhlmann, Assistant Administrator of EPA’s Office of Enforcement and Compliance Assurance, has been spearheading the federal government’s action against Cummins.

2023 Ram 2500 HD Rebel
2023 Ram 2500 Heavy Duty Rebel Cummins badge

Though the federal government won’t name the exact components Cummins installed that were out of compliance with emission regulations, they will continue to seek out similar cases. This ultimately sets a precedent for any other company that might be dealing with components that may violate the Clean Air Act. It’s also clear that the EPA isn’t afraid to go higher than the $2 billion fine Cummins now faces, with Uhlmann stating that the price of the fine will go up if it needs to if it means putting an end to the issue.

We have covered several stories regarding the Environmental Protection Agency and its fight against violators of emission regulations. While some offenses appear to be very blatant and egregious, diesel enthusiasts have been very outspoken against the EPA’s ruling. Social media comments on every platform are full of negative commentary towards the agency, with the ruling leading many to believe that rather than protecting the environment, the EPA is looking to force diesel out of the market. Zoom out even further, and it’s the EPA that’s the core reason for why we’re seeing less and less V8 engines, overly complex and wound-up small displacement motors, and electric cars that nobody seems to want to buy.

2020 2021 2022 2023 2024 Ram Heavy Duty 2500 3500 HD Cummins Diesel Engine
Image via Ram trucks

Written by Zac Quinn

Zac's love for cars started at a young age, after seeing the popular Eleanor from Gone In 60 Seconds. From there, fascination and enthusiasm blossomed and to this day the Ford Mustang remains a favorite. His first job started out detailing cars, but also provided the opportunity to work on restoration including an 1968 Ford Mustang, Pontiac Firebird, and a C3 Corvette, though he left that job before further work and experience could be had. From there, he was a detailer at a car dealership before quitting that job to try and finish college.

Much of his free time while studying was spent watching YouTube videos regarding new cars, or off-roading. 4WD247 is a personal favorite channel which rekindled a dying flame in car enthusiasm, now tailored towards trucks and SUVs and the fun that can be had building up an overlanding rig, and going on adventures, though, that chapter remains unwritten for the time being.

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