Harley-Davidson reaches $15M settlement over pollution charges

Harley-Davidson reaches $15M settlement over pollution charges
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Motorcycle maker Harley-Davidson Inc. has reached a $15 million deal with the federal government to settle charges that it sold devices meant to cheat engine emissions regulations.

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and Justice Department said Thursday that Harley-Davidson sold about 340,000 aftermarket devices under the “Screamin’ Eagle” brand over the last eight years that illegally let motorcycle owners tune their vehicles in a way that made them emit more pollutants than allowed.

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The company, which isn’t admitting to the government’s accusations, will pay a $12 million fine, spend $3 million to mitigate air pollution and offer to buy back and destroy devices officials say are illegal.

“This settlement immediately stops the sale of illegal aftermarket defeat devices used on public roads that threaten the air we breathe,” Cynthia Giles, head of enforcement at the EPA, said in a statement.

“Given Harley-Davidson’s prominence in the industry, this is a very significant step toward our goal of stopping the sale of illegal aftermarket defeat devices that cause harmful pollution on our roads and in our communities,” added John Cruden, the Justice Department’s top attorney for environmental matters.

“Anyone else who manufactures, sells, or installs these types of illegal products should take heed of Harley-Davidson’s corrective actions and immediately stop violating the law,” he said.

The devices at issue increase motorcycle performance, but also increase output of nitrogen oxides and hydrocarbons, the government said, which contribute to ground-level ozone and particulate matter pollution.

In a statement, the company maintained its innocence, saying that it believes the relevant regulations permit sales of the devices for off-road and closed-course use only.

“Concern for our U.S. customers and dealers weighed heavily in reaching this compromise with the EPA,” Ed Moreland, head of government affairs at Harley-Davidson, said in the statement.

“By settling this matter, we can focus our future attention and resources on product innovation rather than a prolonged legal battle with the EPA.”