The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) today withdrew its approval of the import and sale of 200,000 gas-powered off-road motorcycles and all-terrain vehicles from China.
The agency alleges that tailpipe emissions information was either incomplete or falsified entirely. It is just the latest action that casts doubt on the quality or safety of Chinese products or the integrity of the firms that produce them.
This is the first time EPA has voided certificates of conformity for off-road or all-terrain vehicles. Moreover, it is only the second time the agency has done so for any type of vehicle.
EPA says it 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. The amount is still under consideration, an EPA official told me.
The revocation comes as the Obama Administration is desperately trying to prevent the U.S. Congress from introducing bills on reforming the Chinese Yuan or Renminbi (RMB), long an undervalued currency, which allows cheep Chinese goods to displace U.S. made ones. In an election year, and given the ongoing Great Recession, such bills – if introduced – will find widespread non-partisan support, and complicate the U.S.’s relationship with China, which holds large amounts of U.S. Treasury debt.
Back in May, EPA fined Pep Boys $5 million for importing non-compliant motorcycles, recreational vehicles and generators manufactured in China. (See Pep Boys Fined $5 Million for Clean Air Violations) More than 35 different Chinese manufacturers were building illegal vehicles and engines in that case.
In the latest case of the Chinese flouting U.S. law, EPA issued certificates in 2006 and 2007 to the U.S. counterparts of four of China’s largest manufacturers including 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 alleges that this information was falsified.
Why it took the agency so long to investigate is unknown.
“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,” EPA said in a statement.
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 affects the companies that manufactured and imported the 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.
Tags: all-terrain vehicles, auto aftermarket, auto emissions, auto exhaust emissions, chinese all-terrain vehicles, chinese off-road motorcycles, chinese violation us law, clean air act violations, epa enforcement, illegal Chinese goods, ken zino, off-road motorcycles