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Cat pays $510K for shipping, selling uncertified equipment in California

Caterpillar will pay a fine of $510,000 to the California Air Resources Board (CARB) for shipping more than 590,000 on-road and off-road engines that did not have legally required emissions controls installed.

The investigation of these violations was conducted with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Department of Justice based on similar conduct outside of California. The settlement calls for the Illinois-based company to pay a total of $2.55 million in penalties nationwide for violations of the Clean Air Act.

California’s $510,000 portion is based on its share of the engines sold. Caterpillar, which manufactures construction equipment and diesel and natural gas engines, also agreed to recall and correct noncompliant engines and to reduce excess smog-forming and diesel emissions.

Caterpillar recalled the affected engines from August 2002 to April 2005. In 2010, in accordance with the federal Consent Decree, the company reopened and continued the recalls until Dec. 31, 2011.

The federal government’s claims were resolved in 2011. The state’s recent agreement concludes California’s portion of the investigation.

“This was a complex case that demonstrates successful cooperation between different agencies with overlapping jurisdictions,” CARB Executive Officer James Goldstene said in a press release. “The result is cleaner air and the assurance that a major player in this competitive manufacturing field is now playing by the appropriate rules.”

In addition to shipping engines without proper emission controls, Caterpillar also failed to comply with reporting and engine-labeling requirements. Under the settlement, Caterpillar will pay the $510,000 fine to the California Air Pollution Control Fund to support air quality research. Engines lacking proper emission controls can produce excess smog-forming pollutants that can exacerbate cardiac and respiratory ailments such as asthma, according to CARB. ARB's mission is to promote and protect public health, welfare, and ecological resources through effective reduction of air pollutants while recognizing and considering effects on the economy. The ARB oversees all air pollution control efforts in California to attain and maintain health based air quality standards.