DATE: April 9, 2002
CLEAN AIR TRUST ASSAILS CATERPILLAR LOBBYING
TO ROLL BACK CLEAN-AIR CONTROLS
"Cheater" Company Tries Stealth Campaign with Congress, EPA
(Washington, D.C. April 9, 2002) - The nonprofit Clean Air Trust today assailed what it called a "stealth lobbying campaign" by Caterpillar, Inc. to delay pollution controls on diesel truck engines.
Unable to develop a technology in time to meet an October cleanup deadline -- and faced with losing business to its competitors -- Caterpillar is urging its customers to lobby for a delay in the pollution control standards. In a March 27 letter to its customers, Caterpillar asserted that the clean air requirements "could have a chilling effect" on the trucking industry and the entire economy. Caterpillar included sample letters to be sent to members of Congress, the U.S. EPA and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.
"It is outrageous that Caterpillar would use such vile scare tactics on its customers just because it failed to produce a clean technology in a timely manner," said , executive director of the Clean Air Trust. "We can only hope the company's customers have enough common sense to ignore Caterpillar's distortions and find alternative suppliers."
O'Donnell noted that one of Caterpillar's rivals, the Cummins Engine Company, Inc., received official EPA certification last week for a diesel engine that met the new clean air standards. Other diesel engine companies are expected to receive a similar EPA stamp of approval in the near future.
The issue goes back to a 1998 consent decree that Cummins, Caterpillar and other engine companies signed with the Justice Department. The consent decree resolved federal charges that the companies had "cheated" for a decade -- by installing devices that turned off the pollution controls on diesel truck engines while operating in the real world.
"That cheating has led to millions of tons of added emissions of smog-producing nitrogen oxides," noted O'Donnell, "and that has exacerbated smog problems throughout the nation."
As part of the consent decree, the diesel companies agreed to meet tougher diesel pollution standards -- initially set to begin in 2004 -- by October 2002 or pay noncompliance penalties. EPA has already proposed to assess noncompliance penalties on companies that fail to meet the standards.
"This Caterpillar lobbying blitz appears designed to avoid having to pay stiff fines," said O'Donnell.
"Here is a company that harmed the public's health by cheating. Then signed a consent decree to clean up only after it was caught. And now it is trying to void the deal," said O'Donnell.
O'Donnell said that Cummins' success in meeting the standards "shows that a technology-forcing standard can lead to cleaner technology.
"Caterpillar should not be rewarded for its failure," O'Donnell added.
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