U.S. judge approves revised EPA Harley-Davidson emissions settlement

FILE PHOTO: A Harley Davidson logo is displayed above the floor of the New York Stock Exchange shortly after the opening bell in New York
FILE PHOTO: A Harley Davidson logo is displayed above the floor of the New York Stock Exchange shortly after the opening bell in New York, U.S., August 16, 2018. REUTERS/Lucas Jackson/File Photo

September 15, 2020

By David Shepardson

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – A U.S. judge late on Monday approved a revised settlement with Harley-Davidson Inc over excess emissions that dropped a requirement that it spend $3 million to reduce air pollution.

In August 2016, the Milwaukee-based motorcycle manufacturer agreed to pay a $12 million civil fine and stop selling illegal after-market devices that caused its vehicles to emit too much pollution.

It also agreed to spend about $3 million to retrofit or replace wood-burning appliances with cleaner stoves to offset excess emissions.

The Justice Department in July 2017 cited a new policy by then-U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions and an ongoing review of the penalty by a government auditor in proposing to drop the $3 million mitigation project.

More than four years after the settlement was announced, U.S. District Judge Emmet Sullivan approved the settlement over the objections of environmental groups and a group of 10 states, including New York, Illinois, Maryland, Vermont, Washington and Massachusetts.

While the earlier agreement “containing the mitigation project might have been the ‘best’ resolution of

Harley-Davidson’s alleged violations, the court cannot say that

the decree lodged before the Court is not within ‘the reaches of

the public interest,'” Sullivan wrote in approving the consent decree.

Harley-Davidson and the EPA did not immediately comment Tuesday.

The settlement resolved allegations that Harley sold about 340,000 “super tuners” enabling motorcycles since 2008 to pollute the air at levels greater than what the company certified.

Harley-Davidson did not admit liability and has said it disagreed with the government, arguing that the tuners were designed and sold to be used in “competition only.”

Even though the settlement had not yet taken effect, Harley-Davidson has said that since August 2016, it sold only tuners certified by the California Air Resources Board and halted sale of the tuners in question and destroyed tuners returned by dealers.