The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) withdrew its approval of the import and sale of up to 200,000 gas-powered off-road motorcycles and all-terrain vehicles.
The agency suspects that tailpipe emissions information was either incomplete or falsified. This is the first time EPA has voided certificates of conformity for these types of vehicles and only the second time the agency has done so for any type of vehicle.
EPA is considering an enforcement action under the Clean Air Act, which could lead to significant financial penalties against the businesses that manufactured or imported these types of recreational vehicles.
As a result of a lengthy investigation, EPA is alleging that the applications for the certificates contained false or incomplete information.
EPA issued the certificates in 2006 and 2007 to the U.S. counterparts of four of China’s largest manufacturers of these types of vehicles: Hensim USA (City of Industry, Calif.), Loncin USA (Hayward, Calif.), Peace Industry Group (Norcross, Ga.), and Seaseng (Pomona, Calif.). The certificates were issued based on applications compiled by their consultant, MotorScience Enterprise. EPA believes MotorScience Enterprise intentionally submitted false or incomplete emissions information.
The Chinese manufacturers are Chongqing Hensim Group Co., Chongqing Longting Power Equipment Co., Zhejiang Peace Industry and Trade Co., and Zhejiang Chisheng Industry and Trading Co.
All vehicles imported or manufactured in the United States are required to have certificates of conformity, which are issued by EPA. To obtain a certificate, a manufacturer or importer must submit an application that describes the vehicle and its emission control system, and provide emissions data that demonstrates that the vehicle will meet federal emission standards for certain pollutants, including nitrogen oxides (NOx) and total hydrocarbons. EPA’s alleges that this information was falsified.
Because the manufacturers failed to properly test the emissions from their own products, EPA cannot determine whether the vehicles meet EPA emission standards. Without proper emission controls, recreational vehicles can emit substantially more pollution than allowable under EPA standards.
Volatile organic compounds and NOx emissions contribute to the formation of ground-level ozone, or smog. In addition, exposure to even low levels of ozone can cause respiratory problems, and repeated exposure can aggravate pre-existing respiratory diseases.
The California Air Resources Board, which issued executive orders similar to EPA’s certificates of conformity, has also voided its executive orders covering the same vehicles that were sold in California.
Today’s action impacts the companies that manufactured and imported these vehicles. A consumer who owns a model that was covered by these voided certificates is not responsible for these companies’ wrongdoing and can continue to use the vehicle.