The U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced that Advanced Flow Engineering (aFe), an automotive parts manufacturer and distributor based in Corona, California, has agreed to stop manufacturing and selling parts for motor vehicles that, when installed, defeat, disable or override EPA-approved emission controls and harm air quality.
The complaint, filed simultaneously with the settlement, alleges that aFe’s manufacture and sale of these parts violate the Clean Air Act. From 2014 to the present, aFe manufactured and/or sold over 63,000 of these parts, widely known as “defeat devices.” The company will also pay a $250,000 penalty, which was based on its financial situation.
“The products that aFe manufactured and sold jeopardized the public health by causing illegal emissions of dangerous pollutants, including particulate matter and nitrogen oxides (NOx),” said Acting Assistant Attorney General Jean E. Williams of the Justice Department’s Environment and Natural Resources Division (ENRD). “This case demonstrates that we will undertake necessary enforcement measures to eliminate the manufacture and sale of such devices to ensure that the vehicles on our roads meet required emission standards.”
“Today’s settlement will prevent the future sale of approximately 12,000 illegal product units per year,” said Acting Regional Administrator Deborah Jordan for EPA’s Pacific Southwest. “The increased particulate matter and NOx pollution stemming from defeat devices threatens the health of everyone, especially those with pre-existing health conditions, children and older adults. We also know that air pollution can lead to worse outcomes from COVID-19. It is unacceptable that the same communities that are being hit the hardest by the COVID-19 pandemic are often the same communities that bear the disproportionate impact of air pollution.”
Based on prior sales that are now prohibited under the settlement, EPA estimates that this enforcement action will prevent the release of approximately 112 million pounds of NOx and one million pounds of particulate matter from vehicles that would have been installed with aFe’s defeat devices.
Tampering with diesel and gasoline-powered vehicles by installing defeat devices can cause large amounts of NOx and particulate matter emissions, both of which contribute to serious public health problems. These include premature death, aggravation of respiratory and cardiovascular disease, aggravation of existing asthma, acute respiratory symptoms, chronic bronchitis and decreased lung function. Numerous studies also link diesel exhaust to increased incidence of lung cancer. Respiratory issues disproportionately affect families, especially children, living in underserved communities overburdened by pollution. Stopping the sale and use of defeat devices will help reduce harmful air pollution that exacerbates the health effects of pollutant exposures.
The consent decree for this settlement was lodged in the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California and is subject to a 30-day public comment period and final court approval. A copy of the decree will be available on the Department of Justice website at: www.justice.gov/enrd/consent-decrees.
The enforcement action is part of EPA’s National Compliance Initiative that targets companies that manufacture, sell and install parts that disable vehicle emission controls. To learn more, visit: https://www.epa.gov/enforcement/national-compliance-initiative-stopping-aftermarket-defeat-devices-vehicles-and-engines
If you suspect someone is manufacturing, selling or installing illegal defeat devices, or is tampering with emission controls, tell the EPA by writing to [email protected].