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Chinese Vehicle Manufacturers Fined $1.6M for Catalytic Converters

April 14, 2022 by Tom Ramstack
A gasoline-powered go cart.

WASHINGTON — Three Chinese manufacturers of motorcycles and recreational vehicles must pay a $1.6 million fine after a federal court in Washington, D.C., found they did not comply with U.S. environmental standards.

The Environmental Protection Agency imposed the fines on Taotao USA Inc., Taotao Group Co., Ltd., and Jinyun County Xiangyuan Industry Co., Ltd.

The companies submitted designs for catalytic converters on their vehicles that met standards of the Clean Air Act.

The EPA issued them certificates of compliance that allowed the companies to import and sell motorcycles and recreational vehicles in the United States.

After Taotao and its subsidiary, Jinyun, started importing the vehicles, an EPA inspection found that about 109,000 of them did not have catalytic converters that met the standards the companies agreed to follow.

Catalytic converters are exhaust emission control devices on internal combustion engines that convert toxic gases and pollutants into less toxic pollutants. They use expensive precious metals, including platinum, palladium and rhodium, to catalyze the toxic emissions.

The EPA inspection revealed the Taotao catalytic converters lacked enough of the precious metals to be effective in removing pollutants from the vehicle exhausts.

Following the EPA fine, the companies challenged the $1.6 million penalty in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia. They argued that there were ambiguities in the EPA regulations about the “specifications” for catalytic converters that they must meet.

The March 31 ruling from the court declined to overturn the fines or the EPA’s finding of noncompliance.

The ruling said “the plain language of the [Clean Air Act] and its regulations clearly show Taotao China and Jinyun’s actions brought them squarely under the liability provisions of the [Clean Air Act].”

After the ruling, the EPA issued a statement saying, “Producing vehicles for sale that do not match such specifications, such as nonconforming catalytic converters, undermines the integrity of the Clean Air Act certification scheme, designed to protect human health and air quality.”

The case is Taotao USA, Inc. v. U.S. Environmental Protection Agency in U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, March 31, 2022.

Tom can be reached at tom@thewellnews.com

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