Report: Transport Canada negotiating with engine makers over pollution claims

TORONTO (March 1) — Canadian transportation officials have contacted six manufacturers of diesel engines involved in a $1-billion US settlement in the United States last year about remuneration in Canada, according to a report in Saturday’s edition of the Globe and Mail.

The settlement arose from allegations by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency that Caterpillar Engine, Cummins Engine, Detroit Diesel, Mack Trucks, Navistar International, and Volvo Trucks used a loophole in government emissions-testing procedures to meet standards under laboratory conditions yet “defeat” pollution controls at highway speed.

The agreement reached last October covers 1.3 million diesel engines sold since 1988. Transport Canada estimates that roughly 10% of these engines were sold in Canada, although by industry estimates actual sales are closer to 15%.

The Globe and Mail quotes Lui Hrobelsky, chief of energy and emissions engineering at Transport Canada, as saying that the government is still “looking at the [EPA] agreement” and “considering what we ought to be doing.”

In their settlement with the EPA, the engine manufacturers agreed to pay $83.4 million in fines immediately, and spend another $959 million on research and development of new cleaner engines.

The manufacturers must also meet 2004 emissions targets — which cut emissions by 80% compared to current levels — by Oct. 1, 2002, 15 months sooner than planned.

EPA did not order a recall of existing engines, but engine makers are responsible for fixing pollution-control software when engines are rebuilt.

The manufacturers have claimed no wrongdoing, and in fact said they were being penalized for a practice the EPA had known about for years.

Several makers issued statements that the settlement would not have a large impact. Mack did not expect the new standards to have “any significant impact on fuel consumption and performance”; Navistar said there will be no impact on its products “from a performance, cost, or design standpoint.”

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