The Trump administration will drop a requirement that Harley-Davidson must give community organizations millions of dollars as payment for violating federal air emission laws, according to a report published Wednesday.
Harley agreed to pay a $ 12 million civil fine last year and stop selling devices that caused its vehicles to emit too much air pollution. The motorcycle maker also agreed to donate $ 3 million to the American Lung Association of the Northeast for purposes not associated with the violation.
The Department of Justice (DOJ) will refile the consent decree without the $ 3 million mitigation project, which will need to be approved by a federal judge in Washington, the report notes.
Attorney General Jeff Sessions ended the practice known as “third party settlements” in June, forcing companies that violated the Environmental Protection Agency’s Clean Air Act to pay groups and people not associated with the criminal matter.
Restitution funds should go to victims of a crime, “not to bankroll third-party special interest groups or the political friends of whoever is in power,” Sessions told reporters at the time. The Sierra Club and other activist groups recoiled, arguing that the DOJ’s decision will hurt environmental clean-up efforts.
The EPA and the DOJ’s lawsuit resolved allegations that Harley sold roughly 340,000 “super tuners,” enabling new-model motorcycles to pollute the air at levels greater than what the company certified. Harley disagreed with the government’s allegation, claiming that the devices were for “competition only.”
The Obama administration used so-called third-party settlements against Volkswagen last year over the company’s highly-publicized “Dieselgate” scandal.
VW pled guilty in March to placing cheat devices on more than 500,000 vehicles. The German automaker was sentenced to three years of probation and forced to pay billions of dollars in penalties.
The company agreed to spend up to $ 25 billion in the U.S. to address the scandal, and it was also tasked with recalling and fixing the tainted vehicles. The settlement included $ 2.7 billion for projects to reduce pollution in areas where some of the infected vehicles had traveled, as well as $ 2 billion for various investments in electric vehicle technology.
Payments were doled out to various plaintiffs, such as the state of New York, which will use $ 115 million for environmental projects to improve air quality and add another $ 30 million to the state’s general fund.
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