Toyota agreed to pay $180 million to settle claims that the company violated Clean Air Act (CAA) reporting requirements for decades, according to a report the United States Department of Justice (DOJ) released on Thursday. The report said this is the “largest civil penalty for violation of EPA’s emission-reporting requirements.” Allegations against Toyota included “systemic, longstanding violations” of the requirement to report defects and recalls which affect emissions.
“This settlement is yet another important milestone settlement for this Administration, and it continues our unwavering commitment to ensuring that our environmental laws as written, including EPA’s regulations, are rigorously enforced,” said Jeffrey Bossert Clark, Assistant Attorney General of the Justice Department’s Environment and Natural Resources Division.
The complaint was filed by the United States earlier on Thursday, on behalf of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) administrator in the Southern District of New York with claims against Toyota Motor Corporation from between 2005 and at least 2015. The parties released their settlement on the same day and, according to the DOJ, “Toyota admits, acknowledges, and accepts responsibility,” for its inaction.
After the settlement, the United States filed a Consent Decree resolving the complaint based on the $180 million payment and injunctive relief agreed to by Toyota. The decree explained that the settlement is still subject to a public comment period and approval from the court.
Toyota reportedly neglected to file Emissions Defect Information Reports, which are required when at least 25 vehicles from a given model and year have the same emission control defect. The DOJ said, “during the period of noncompliance, Toyota managers and staff in Japan knew that Toyota was no longer even attempting to determine whether it was aware of 25 instances of the same emission-related defect in a model year.” The company also purportedly neglected to file Voluntary Emissions Recall Reports with the EPA when they performed a recall for parts that were related to emissions, as well as updating the EPA on the recalls, which is required under the CAA.
“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,” said Audrey Strauss, Acting U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York in the DOJ press release.
The EPA and DOJ claimed that Toyota deprived the government of information, which likely led to “delayed or avoided recalls” and gave a financial benefit to Toyota.
Toyota is represented by Debevoise & Plimpton.