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Attorney General Clark Leads Coalition in Asking EPA to ‘Pump the Breaks’ on Vehicle Emissions Settlement

February 21, 2024

Attorney General Charity Clark has led a coalition of state Attorneys General in filing public comments on the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA’s) latest vehicle emissions settlement regarding “defeat devices” installed in a group of RAM truck models. These devices cause the vehicles to emit much higher levels of air pollution than permitted by the State’s vehicle emissions regulations, giving rise to a series of consumer and environmental claims against the manufacturer, Cummins Inc. The EPA’s $1.5 billion proposed settlement with Cummins Inc. and the State of California does not include mitigation funds or other relief for many impacted states, including Vermont. Attorney General Clark has requested that the U.S. Department of Justice and California delay entering into the settlement so that Vermont and other states may join the negotiations.

“Let’s be clear: use of these ‘defeat devices’ is not permitted in Vermont. Vermont should be at the table to redress the public health and environmental harms felt by our residents,” Attorney General Clark said. “All of us deserve clean air, and I take Vermont’s role in regulation of pollution seriously.”

Similar “defeat devices” were at issue in the Volkswagen case in 2017, which resulted in a $4.2 million settlement with Vermont for the harms caused by the excess air pollution in the state. Before vehicles can be sold in the U.S., new vehicle models are put through rigorous testing programs run by the EPA and California’s Air Regulatory Board to ensure the vehicles meet the emissions standards. “Defeat devices” allow the vehicles to perform differently under testing conditions than they do on the road, resulting in excess air pollution in our states. Vermont filed public comments on the proposed settlement, requesting that the impacted states have an opportunity to resolve their claims, avoiding with Cummins Inc. the need for follow-up investigations and enforcement actions brought by other impacted states. 

Vermont was joined by Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New York, Oregon, Rhode Island, and Washington in filing the public comments last week, which are available here.


Contact: Lauren Jandl, Chief of Staff, 802-828-3171