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Toyota Agrees to Pay $180 Million for Clean Air Act Reporting Noncompliance

Jan. 14, 2021
The Justice Department said Toyota selectively conformed to less-strict Californian standards and neglected federal ones.

The Justice Department and the Environmental Protection Agency announced January 14 that Toyota North America had agreed to pay $180 million to settle a civil suit that the company withheld required information about its adherence to the Clean Air Act.

The complaint, filed in Manhattan federal court, alleged that Toyota did not conform to reporting information about possible defects in its automobiles which may have caused them to violate the Clean Air Act from 2005 until late 2015.

During that 10-year period, Toyota allegedly skipped out on and delayed submitting an estimated 78 Emissions Defect Information Reports, or EDIRs, which the EPA requires when 25 or more vehicles or engines from the same model year have the same defect in a part related to emissions control. Collectively, those reports were related to millions of vehicles on the road that might now have emissions-related defects.

Instead of filing the required forms with the federal emissions, Toyota leadership selectively filed reports with regulators in California that the EPA had previously indicated was not strict enough. “Toyota unilaterally decided to file EDIRs principally when Toyota was required to file distinct reports with California regulators under a less strict standard—" said a statement from the Justice Department “—a standard that EPA had rejected as too lenient when Toyota had previously proposed to rely on it for federal reporting.”

Many of the delayed reports were only disclosed in 2015, by which time some of them were eight years late. The Justice Department says that many of the reports weren’t filed at all until 2015, when Toyota issued a self-disclosure of non-compliance in 2015.

According to the EPA, reports like the EDIRs and the 20 voluntary recall reports Toyota failed to file with the EPA are critical because of how they require manufacturers to proactively investigate emissions-related defects.

Audrey Strauss, Acting U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York, said in a statement that Toyota had “systematically violated regulations that provide EPA with a critical compliance tool to ensure that vehicles on the road comply with federal emissions standards.”

Susan Bodine, from the EPA’s Office of Enforcement and Compliance, said Toyota “kept the agency in the dark.”

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