The US Justice Department recently issued a $180 million penalty against Japanese carmaker Toyota over the company’s alleged violations to the reporting requirements of the Environmental Protection Agency’s Clean Air Act. The veteran automaker’s violations allegedly lasted for about a decade, from about 2005 to at least 2015.
According to the DOJ on Thursday, Toyota delayed the filings of about 78 emissions defect information reports related to millions of vehicles. The Justice Department also alleged that Toyota did not file 20 voluntary emissions recall reports, as well as 200 quarterly reports that were supposed to update the EPA about emissions-related recalls, as per a report from The Wall Street Journal.
Audrey Strauss, Acting U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York, noted that Toyota’s actions undermined the EPA’s self-disclosure system. This delayed or avoided the rollout of pertinent emissions-related recalls, and it benefited the company at the cost of excess emissions.
“For a decade, Toyota systematically violated regulations that provide EPA with a critical compliance tool to ensure that vehicles on the road comply with federal emissions standards. Toyota shut its eyes to the noncompliance, failing to provide proper training, attention, and oversight to its Clean Air Act reporting obligations.
“Toyota’s actions undermined EPA’s self-disclosure system and likely led to delayed or avoided emission-related recalls, resulting in financial benefit to Toyota and excess emissions of air pollutants. Today, Toyota pays the price for its misconduct with a $180 million civil penalty and agreement to injunctive relief to ensure that its violations will not be repeated,” Strauss said.
Susan Bodine, EPA’s Office of Enforcement and Compliance Assurance Assistant Administrator, described Toyota’s actions as a serious violation of the Clean Air Act. “For a decade, Toyota failed to report mandatory information about potential defects in their cars to the EPA, keeping the agency in the dark and evading oversight,” Bodine said.
A Toyota spokesperson has noted that the company reported five years ago that there was a “process gap” which resulted in delays with the automaker’s filing of some non-public EPA reports. The spokesperson did note that Toyota eventually submitted all relevant delayed findings, and that the company has initiated new reporting and compliance processes. “We recognize that some of our reporting protocols fell short of our own high standards, and we are pleased to have resolved this matter,” the spokesperson said.
As per the DOJ, Toyota’s $180 million fine is the largest civil penalty to date tied to violations of the EPA’s emission reporting requirements.