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American Honda Motor to pay $1.9M in penalties in California for small engine emissions violations

The California Air Resources Board has reached a settlement of $1,927,800 with American Honda Motor Co., Inc. (Honda) to resolve clean-air violations related to the sale of small off-road engines in California.

The violations involved small off-road engines used in generators and lawn and garden equipment. Through extensive tests in its lab CARB discovered that this equipment did not meet the evaporative control emission standards that Honda had originally agreed to during the certification process.

Evaporative emissions of raw fuel, which occur both while an engine is being used and at rest, are known as volatile organic compounds and are a significant precursor of smog.

When a manufacturer certifies small off-road engines, it can set its emissions limit to meet the current regulation, or choose to demonstrate that they have met standards below those required by the current regulation. In that case, the manufacturer earns what are known as evaporative credits based on the additional reductions that they assert in the certification process. These credits can then be used for certification purposes to offset emissions on future products.

Because Honda’s engines did not meet the self-selected lower evaporative emission limits, they forfeited the credits they had earned for claiming to meet stricter evaporative emissions standards, and also gave up additional credits to mitigate the environmental harm.

To resolve the violations, Honda agreed to pay a total settlement of $1,927,800, with $963,900 going to the California Air Pollution Control Fund.

The remaining funds, roughly $1 million, will go to the IQAir Foundation, a non-profit that seeks to promote environmental justice by helping to improve environmental health conditions in neighborhoods unfairly affected by pollution as a result of economic, ethnic, or racial factors.

The IQAir Foundation will use these funds to benefit three Supplemental Environmental Projects:

  • The Coachella Schools Flag Program: The purpose of the Air Quality School Flag Program is to help people with asthma by improving awareness and education about the school environment with outdoor air quality practices. The air quality school flag program uses colored flags based on US EPA’s Air Quality Index (AQI) to notify teachers, coaches, students, and others about outdoor air quality conditions.

  • The Oakland Unified School District Project 2019 – 2023: This project proposes to install and maintain high-performance air filtration systems in schools located in communities impacted by air pollution within Oakland Unified School District. School districts will provide access to schools, and will maintain the air filtration systems after their maintenance staff is trained on maintenance procedures for these systems.

  • The Coachella Valley Mitigation Project Extension 2018 – 2023: This project will install and maintain high-performance air filtration systems in schools located in communities impacted by air pollution. This will be used in conjunction with the Coachella Schools Flag Program.

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