Remarks by Deputy Attorney General Jeffrey A. Rosen on the Settlement of Clean Air Act Claims against Daimler AG and Mercedes-Benz USA LLC

Remarks as Prepared for Delivery

Good afternoon.  I am very pleased to be joined today by colleagues from the Department of Justice and the Environmental Protection Agency, including EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler, Assistant Attorney General Jeff Clark, and EPA Assistant Administrator Susan Parker Bodine.  And the reason we are all here is to announce an important matter that involves the protection of our environment. 

I will turn the podium over to Administrator Wheeler to make that announcement, before I offer a few brief comments myself after him, but before we proceed, I want to express my profound appreciation for Administrator Wheeler’s leadership, both in regard to this matter and the administration’s broader environmental policy efforts.  He and I have worked together on tough environmental policy issues since the mid-2000s when he served as Chief Counsel of the U.S. Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works and I served as General Counsel at OMB.  His dedication to serving the American people and his faithful interpretation of the nation’s environmental laws have been hallmarks of his service to our country.  And those are certainly demonstrated by what he is about to tell you.  Administrator Wheeler.    

*        *        *

Thank you Administrator Wheeler.  I want to emphasize the strong commitment that both the Department of Justice and the Environmental Protection Agency have made to the enforcement of our pollution laws, including the Clean Air Act.  So let me briefly describe the key ways that this settlement will fulfill that commitment, as it includes several different forms of relief. 

First, as Administrator Wheeler just mentioned, Daimler will pay a civil penalty totaling $875 million, which equates to about a $3,500 penalty for each vehicle that was sold in the U.S.  That is the largest per-vehicle civil penalty judgment ever imposed for a mobile emissions violation under the Clean Air Act.   

Second, Daimler will fix each of the affected vehicles without any cost to the consumer.  That means recalling the vehicles and bringing them into compliance with Clean Air Act emissions standards.  We estimate the cost to Daimler to perform these recalls is close to $400 million. 

Third, Daimler will mitigate the damage this scheme did to our nation’s air by replacing at its own expense no less than 15 old locomotive engines with new, low nitrogen oxide-emitting engines that should offset the illegal emissions from its vehicles. 

Fourth, Daimler and Mercedes-Benz USA will strengthen their internal corporate compliance procedures to prevent future violations of the Clean Air Act.  They must hire a third-party to review their compliance measures on a regular basis going forward to ensure they are strong enough. 

Taking all these things together, the total cost to Daimler of these undertakings and other requirements is around $1.5 billion.  We expect that this relief will also serve to deter any others who may be tempted to violate our nation’s pollution laws in the future.

From the DOJ side of this, the settlement is the culmination of a tremendous effort by the Environment & Natural Resources Division and its staff, especially Stefan Bachman, Lori Jonas, Steve O’Rourke, and Jerry MacLaughlin.  The Attorney General and I appreciate their work on this case and all the division does on behalf of the American people to enforce our environmental laws.  I also thank Assistant Attorney General Jeff Clark and his counsel Michael Buschbacher for their leadership during the settlement negotiations.  

Now, for the EPA side of things, I also want to thank EPA Assistant Administrator Bodine and the men and women of the EPA for their tremendous work and for their outstanding partnership during this investigation.  And I again want to express my gratitude to Administrator Wheeler for his leadership and dedication to the nation’s pollution laws.

At this point, Assistant Attorney General Clark and Assistant Administrator Bodine will be available to provide additional information and help us address any questions about today’s announcement.  Thank you very much.

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    Enrollment in private health insurance plans in the individual (coverage sold directly to individuals), small group (coverage offered by small employers), and large group (coverage offered by large employers) markets has historically been highly concentrated among a small number of issuers. GAO found that this pattern continued in 2017 and 2018. For example: For each market in 2018, at least 43 states (including the District of Columbia) were highly concentrated. Overall individual and small group markets have become more concentrated in recent years. The national median market share of the top three issuers increased by approximately 8 and 5 percentage points, respectively, from 2015 through 2018. With these increases, the median concentration was at least 94 percent in both markets in 2018. Number of States and District of Columbia Where the Three Largest Issuers Had at Least 80 Percent of Enrollment, by Market, 2011-2018 GAO found similar patterns of high concentration across the 39 states in 2018 that used federal infrastructure to operate individual market exchanges— marketplaces where consumers can compare and select among insurance plans sold by participating issuers—established in 2014 by the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) and known as federally facilitated exchanges. From 2015 through 2018, states that were already highly concentrated became even more concentrated, often because the number of issuers decreased or the existing issuers accrued the entirety of the market share within a state. In 2017 and 2018 all 39 states were highly concentrated. GAO received technical comments on a draft of this report from the Department of Health and Human Services and incorporated them as appropriate. GAO previously reported that, from 2011 through 2016, enrollment in the individual, small group, and large group health insurance markets was concentrated among a few issuers in most states (GAO-19-306). GAO considered states' markets or exchanges to be highly concentrated if three or fewer issuers held at least 80 percent of the market share. GAO also found similar concentration on the health insurance exchanges established in 2014 by PPACA. A highly concentrated health insurance market may indicate less issuer competition and could affect consumers' choice of issuers and the premiums they pay for coverage. PPACA included a provision for GAO to periodically study market concentration. This report describes changes in the concentration of enrollment among issuers in the overall individual, small group, and large group markets; and individual market federally facilitated exchanges. GAO determined market share in the overall markets using enrollment data from 2017 and 2018 that issuers are required to report annually to the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS). GAO determined market share in the individual market federally facilitated exchanges in 2018 using enrollment data from CMS. For all analyses, GAO used the latest data available. For more information, contact John Dicken at (202) 512-7114 or dickenj@gao.gov.
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