Top NewsGeneral Motors to pay $146 million fine for excessive car emissions

General Motors to pay $146 million fine for excessive car emissions

General Motors will pay nearly $146 million in fines and take other steps to address excess emissions from nearly 6 million vehicles on the nation’s roads, the Environmental Protection Agency and the Department of Transportation announced Wednesday.

The move represents a significant step toward ensuring compliance with President Biden’s most consequential climate rule: carbon dioxide emission limits for cars. An EPA investigation found that these vehicles emit an average of 10 percent more CO2 than the automaker’s initial compliance reports claimed.

“EPA’s vehicle standards rely on strong oversight to deliver real-world public health benefits,” EPA Administrator Michael Reagan said in a statement. “Our investigation has achieved accountability and upheld an important program that will reduce air pollution and protect communities across the country.”

GM spokesman Bill Grotz said in an email that the automaker has not admitted any wrongdoing, including violating the Clean Air Act or other relevant federal laws.

“We believe this is the best course of action to quickly resolve the outstanding issues with the federal government regarding this matter,” Grotz said. “GM is committed to reducing auto emissions and meeting the administration’s fleet electrification goals.”

The vehicles in question range from 2012 to 2018 model years. They include popular SUVs under GM’s Chevrolet brand, including the front-wheel drive Chevrolet Equinox.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), a division of the Department of Transportation, will impose a $145.8 million fine. In addition to the fine, GM agreed to retire millions in credits it received to comply with federal rules.

The automaker will cancel 50 million metric tons of greenhouse gas credits from the EPA, the company said in a news release, as well as about 30.6 million gas mileage credits from the NHTSA, spokeswoman Lucia Sanchez said in an email.

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Dan Becker, director of the Safe Climate Transportation Campaign at the Center for Biological Diversity, said the announcement underscores the importance of federal laws and oversight.

“This demonstrates why it’s more important to have laws than to trust automakers who say they’ll make cleaner, more efficient vehicles,” Becker said. “This shows why EPA and NHTSA must continue to be vigilant to protect our air and atmosphere.”

The move announced Wednesday paled in comparison to the Volkswagen emissions cheating scandal known as “Dieselgate.” In 2015, VW admitted that around 11 million cars worldwide contained software designed to cheat emissions tests. The German automaker later agreed to pay a total of $20 billion in fines.

“Obviously it’s not as big as dieselgate,” said Dave Cook, senior automotive researcher at the Union of Concerned Scientists. “But 6 million vehicles is no small number.”

The Biden administration has sought to accelerate enforcement of the nation’s foundational environmental laws. Last year, the Department of Justice and the State of California Agreement reached with truck engine manufacturer Cummins to settle claims that the company installed devices to defeat emissions controls in hundreds of thousands of engines. The $1.6 billion fine is the largest ever under the Clean Air Act.

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