DOJ seeks to waive Harley-Davidson air-pollution punishment
By MICHAEL BIESECKER
Jul. 20, 2017
WASHINGTON (AP) — The Trump administration agreed Thursday to waive part of the penalty Harley-Davidson Inc. agreed to pay last year to settle a case over air pollution involving racing tuners that caused its motorcycles to emit higher-than-allowed pollution levels.
The Justice Department filed a new consent decree with the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia. It eliminated a requirement that the Milwaukee-based company spend $3 million to curb air pollution in local communities by paying to replace conventional woodstoves with cleaner-burning versions.
Harley-Davidson would still pay a $12 million fine.
Attorney General Jeff Sessions directed government lawyers last month to no longer seek settlements requiring offenders to pay third-party organizations to carry out pollution mitigation projects.
A judge must still approve the revision. Harley-Davidson declined to comment on the settlement change, referring questions back to the Justice Department and the Environmental Protection Agency.
Harley-Davidson executives met with President Donald Trump in February to discuss his push for "America First" trade deals. The White House did not immediately respond to questions Thursday about whether the legal tussle over the company's alleged environmental violations came up in the meeting or in subsequent discussions.
The company has denied wrongdoing in the case, which involved about 340,000 Screamin' Eagle Pro Super Tuners that allowed users to modify a motorcycle's emissions control system to increase power and performance, according to court filings. The racing tuners, which the prosecutors said were illegal "defeat devices" under federal law, also increased the amounts of such harmful air pollutants as nitrogen oxide spewing from the bikes' tailpipes.
Harley-Davidson said the offending tuners, which it no longer sells, were intended only for motorcycles ridden off-road and in closed-course competition.
Associated Press reporter Jill Colvin contributed from Washington.
Follow AP environmental writer Michael Biesecker at www.Twitter.com/mbieseck.