September 28, 2021

News

News Network

The U.S. Reaches $1.5 Billion Settlement with Daimler AG Over Emissions Cheating in Mercedes-Benz Diesel Vehicles

14 min read
<div>The U.S. Department of Justice, Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), and California Air Resources Board (CARB) announced today a proposed settlement with German automaker Daimler AG and its American subsidiary Mercedes-Benz USA, LLC (collectively, “Daimler”) resolving alleged violations of the Clean Air Act and California law associated with emissions cheating. </div>

Daimler AG to Conduct Nationwide Recall and Repair of Mercedes-Benz Diesel Vehicles, Pay over $945,000,000 in Penalties, Perform Projects to Mitigate Pollution, and Revamp Internal Audit Procedures

The U.S. Department of Justice, Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), and California Air Resources Board (CARB) announced today a proposed settlement with German automaker Daimler AG and its American subsidiary Mercedes-Benz USA, LLC (collectively, “Daimler”) resolving alleged violations of the Clean Air Act and California law associated with emissions cheating. 

Under the proposed settlement, lodged with the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, Daimler will recall and repair the emissions systems in Mercedes-Benz diesel vehicles sold in the United States between 2009 and 2016 and pay $875,000,000 in civil penalties and roughly $70,300,000 in other penalties.  The company will also extend the warranty period for certain parts in the repaired vehicles, perform projects to mitigate excess ozone-creating nitrogen oxides (NOx) emitted from the vehicles, and implement new internal audit procedures designed to prevent future emissions cheating.  The recall program and federal mitigation project are expected to cost the company about $436,000,000.  The company will pay another $110,000,000 to fund mitigation projects in California.  Taken together, the settlement is valued at about $1.5 billion.    

Vehicle manufacturers are required by the Clean Air Act and federal regulations to apply for and receive a certificate of conformity from EPA before selling a new model year vehicle in the United States.  As part of the application process, manufacturers must demonstrate through testing that a vehicle meets applicable emissions standards and disclose to EPA all auxiliary emission control devices (AECDs) and any defeat devices installed in the vehicle. 

The settlement addresses allegations made in separate civil complaints filed by the United States and CARB today in the District of Columbia that, from 2009 to 2016, Daimler manufactured, imported, and sold more than 250,000 diesel Sprinter vans and passenger cars with undisclosed AECDs and defeat devices programmed into the vehicles’ complex emissions control software.  These devices cause the vehicles to produce compliant results during emissions testing.  But when not running a test, the vehicles’ emissions controls perform differently, and less effectively, resulting in an increase in NOx emissions above compliant levels. 

NOx emissions from vehicles play a key role in ground-level ozone production and negatively impact human health.  Indeed, studies have indicated that breathing ozone may cause damage to lung tissue in children and adults, and it may worsen conditions like asthma, emphysema, and bronchitis.  The pollutant has also been linked to cardiac disease. 

“By requiring Daimler to pay a steep penalty, fix its vehicles free of charge, and offset the pollution they caused, today’s settlement again demonstrates our commitment to enforcing our nation’s environmental laws and protecting Americans from air pollution,” said Deputy Attorney General Jeffrey Rosen.

“The message we are sending today is clear.  We will enforce the law.  We will protect the environment and public health.  And if you try to cheat the system and mislead the public, you will be caught,” said EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler.  “Those that violate public trust in pursuit of profits will forfeit both.”

EPA and CARB discovered the defeat devices through testing conducted in the wake of the Volkswagen scandal at EPA’s National Vehicle and Fuel Emissions Laboratory in Michigan and at CARB’s test laboratory in El Monte, California. 

The settlement requires Daimler to implement a recall and repair program to remove all defeat devices from the affected vehicles at no cost to consumers and bring the vehicles into compliance with applicable emissions standards under the Clean Air Act.  The repair will consist of a software update and replacement of select hardware, which differs across models and model years. 

Daimler must repair at least 85 percent of the affected passenger cars within two years and at least 85 percent of the affected vans within three years.  The company must also offer an extended warranty covering all updated software and hardware, and it must test repaired vehicles each year for the next five years to ensure the vehicles continue to meet emissions standards over time.  Daimler will face stiff penalties if any category of updated vehicles fails to meet applicable emissions standards or if it fails to meet the 85 percent recall rate for passenger cars or vans.   

The settlement further requires Daimler to implement systemic corporate reforms to detect and try to eliminate violations in the future.  This includes conducting significant testing on new diesel and gasoline motor vehicles using a portable emissions measurement system to assess compliance under real-world conditions, installing a robust whistleblower program, enhancing annual AECD and defeat device training for its employees, and performing internal audits subject to review and critique by an external compliance consultant.

Daimler must also replace 15 old locomotive engines with new, less-polluting engines to offset excess NOx emitted from its vehicles. 

The proposed settlement is subject to a 30-day public comment period and court review and approval.  Copies of the consent decree lodged with the court are available here. Further information about the settlement is available on EPA’s website at: https://www.epa.gov/enforcement/daimler-ag-and-mercedes-benz-usa-llc-clean-air-act-civil-settlement.

News Network

  • K-12 Education: Observations on States’ School Improvement Efforts
    In U.S GAO News
    Many states use flexibilities in the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA), as amended, in identifying low-performing schools and student subgroups (e.g., students from major racial and ethnic groups and low-income students) that need support and improvement. For example, states must identify all public high schools failing to graduate at least one-third of their students. According to GAO's state plan analysis, four states used ESEA's flexibilities to set higher graduation rates (i.e., 70-86 percent) for purposes of state accountability. Similarly, while ESEA requires states to identify schools in which students in certain subgroups are consistently underperforming, 12 states assess the performance of additional student subgroups. Although states are generally required to set aside a portion of their federal education funding for school improvement activities (see figure), states have some discretion in how they allocate these funds to school districts. According to GAO's survey, 27 states use a formula to allocate funds. GAO also found that in at least 34 states, all school districts that applied for federal funds received them in school year 2018-2019, but states had discretion regarding which schools within those districts to fund and at what level. Funding for School Improvement through the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) Title I, Part A Note: For more details, see figure 2 in GAO-21-199. A majority of the 50 states and the District of Columbia responding to our survey reported having at least moderate capacity to support school districts' school improvement activities. Education provides various types of technical assistance to build local and state capacity such as webinars, in-person training, guidance, and peer networks. About one-half of states responding to GAO's survey sought at least one type of technical assistance from Education's program office and various initiatives, and almost all of those found it helpful. For example, Education's Regional Educational Laboratories (REL) help states use data and evidence, access high-quality research to inform decisions, identify opportunities to conduct original research, and track progress over time using high-quality data and methods. Several states most commonly reported finding the following assistance by RELs to be helpful: in-person training (26), webinars (28), and reviews of existing research studies to help select interventions (24). The Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) requires states to have statewide accountability systems to help provide all children significant opportunity to receive a fair, equitable, and high-quality education, and to close educational achievement gaps high-quality education. These systems must meet certain federal requirements, but states have some discretion in how they design them. For example, ESEA requires states to identify low-performing schools and student subgroups for support and improvement. Senate Report 115-289 accompanying the Departments of Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education, and Related Agencies Appropriations Bill, 2019, includes a provision for GAO to review states' school improvement activities. This report addresses (1) how states identify and allocate funds for schools identified for support and improvement; and (2) the extent to which states have capacity to support districts' school improvement activities and how helpful states find Education's technical assistance. GAO analyzed the most current approved state accountability plans from all 50 states and the District of Columbia as of September 2020. The information in these plans predates the COVID-19 pandemic and represents a baseline from which to compare school improvement activities going forward. GAO also surveyed and received responses from all 50 states and the District of Columbia. GAO also conducted follow-up interviews with officials in three states selected based on variation in reported capacity and geographic diversity. For more information, contact Jacqueline M. Nowicki at (617) 788-0580 or nowickij@gao.gov.
    [Read More…]
  • Depot Maintenance: Improved Strategic Planning Needed to Ensure That Army and Marine Corps Depots Can Meet Future Maintenance Requirements
    In U.S GAO News
    The Army and Marine Corps maintenance depots provide critical support to ongoing military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan and are heavily involved in efforts to reset the force. The Department of Defense (DOD) has an interest in ensuring that the depots remain operationally effective, efficient, and capable of meeting future maintenance requirements. In 2008, in response to direction by the Office of the Secretary of Defense (OSD), the Army and the Marine Corps each submitted a depot maintenance strategic plan. Our objective was to evaluate the extent to which these plans provide comprehensive strategies for meeting future depot maintenance requirements. GAO determined whether the plans were consistent with the criteria for developing a results-oriented management framework and fully addressed OSD's criteria.The depot maintenance strategic plans developed by the Army and Marine Corps identify key issues affecting the depots, but do not provide assurance that the depots will be postured and resourced to meet future maintenance requirements because they do not fully address all of the elements required for a comprehensive, results-oriented management framework. Nor are they fully responsive to OSD's direction for developing the plans. While the services' strategic plans contain mission statements, along with long-term goals and objectives, they do not fully address all the elements needed for sound strategic planning, such as external factors that may affect how goals and objectives will be accomplished, performance indicators or metrics that measure outcomes and gauge progress, and resources required to meet the goals and objectives. Also, the plans partially address four issues that OSD directed the services, at a minimum, to include in their plans, such as logistics transformation, core logistics capability assurance, workforce revitalization, and capital investment. Army and Marine Corps officials involved with the development of the service strategic plans acknowledged that their plans do not fully address the OSD criteria, but they stated that the plans nevertheless address issues they believe are critical to maintaining effective, long-term depot maintenance capabilities. The Army's and Marine Corps' plans also are not comprehensive because they do not provide strategies for mitigating and reducing uncertainties in future workloads that affect the depots' ability to plan for meeting future maintenance requirements. Such uncertainties stem primarily from a lack of information on (1) workload that will replace current work on existing systems, which is expected to decline, and (2) workload associated with new systems that are in the acquisition pipeline. According to depot officials, to effectively plan for future maintenance requirements, the depots need timely and reliable information from their major commands on both the amounts and types of workloads they should expect to receive in future years. Depot officials told us that the information they receive from their major commands on their future workloads are uncertain beyond the current fiscal year. Officials cited various factors that contribute to these uncertainties, such as volatility in workload requirements, changing wartime environment, budget instability, and unanticipated changes in customer orders. In addition, depot officials said that they are not involved in the sustainment portion of the life cycle management planning process for new and modified systems. No clear process exists that would enable them to have input into weapon system program managers' decisions on how and where new and modified systems will be supported and maintained in the future. Unless they are integrated in this planning process, these officials said, the depots will continue to have uncertainties about what capabilities they will need to plan for future workloads and what other resources they will need to support new and modified weapon systems.
    [Read More…]
  • 15 Named In $26 Million International Trade Fraud Scheme
    In Crime News
    A federal grand jury in Houston, Texas, has returned a criminal indictment against eight individuals, while a related civil complaint has charged 14 individuals and one company relating to international trade fraud violations stemming from a decade-long scheme involving tires from China.  
    [Read More…]
  • Secretary Blinken’s Call with Canadian Foreign Minister Garneau
    In Crime Control and Security News
    Antony J. Blinken, [Read More…]
  • Former Veterans Affairs Doctor Sentenced to Prison for Sexual Abuse of Veterans
    In Crime News
    A former doctor of osteopathic medicine who previously worked at the Veterans Affairs (VA) Medical Center in Beckley, West Virginia, was sentenced today for depriving veterans of their civil rights under color of law by sexually abusing them.
    [Read More…]
  • G7 Foreign and Development Ministers’ Meeting
    In Crime Control and Security News
    Office of the [Read More…]
  • Floridians Charged and Convicted in Connection with International Enterprise that Operated Sexually Exploitive ‘Child Modeling’ Websites
    In Crime News
    A series of charges and convictions were announced today in connection with an international enterprise based in Florida that operated subscription-based sexually exploitive “child modeling” websites.
    [Read More…]
  • Rental Housing: Information on Low-Income Veterans’ Housing Conditions and Participation in HUD’s Programs
    In U.S GAO News
    Veterans returning from service in Iraq and Afghanistan could increase demand for affordable rental housing. Households with low incomes (80 percent or less of the area median income) generally are eligible to receive rental assistance from the Department of Housing and Urban Development's (HUD) housing choice voucher, public housing, and project-based programs. However, because rental assistance is not an entitlement, not all who are eligible receive assistance. This testimony, based on a 2007 report, discusses (1) the income status and demographic and housing characteristics of veteran renter households, (2) how HUD's rental assistance programs treat veteran status (whether a person is a veteran or not) and whether they use a veteran's preference, and (3) the extent to which HUD's rental assistance programs served veterans in fiscal year 2005. The 2007 report discussed in this testimony made no recommendations.In 2005, an estimated 2.3 million veteran renter households had low incomes. The proportion of veteran renter households that were low income varied by state but did not fall below 41 percent. Further, an estimated 1.3 million, or about 56 percent of these low-income veteran households nationwide, had housing affordability problems--that is, rental costs exceeding 30 percent of household income (see map for state percentages). Compared with other (nonveteran) renter households, however, veterans were somewhat less likely to be low income or have housing affordability problems. HUD's major rental assistance programs are not required to take a household's veteran status into account when determining eligibility and calculating subsidy amounts, but eligible veterans can receive assistance. The majority of the 41 largest public housing agencies that administer the housing choice voucher or public housing programs had no veterans' preference for admission. The 13 largest performance-based contract administrators that oversaw most properties under project-based programs reported that owners generally did not adopt a veterans' preference. In fiscal year 2005, an estimated 11 percent of all eligible low-income veteran households (at least 250,000) received assistance, compared with 19 percent of nonveteran households. Although the reasons for the difference are unclear, factors such as differing levels of need for affordable housing among veteran and other households could influence the percentages.
    [Read More…]
  • Acting Attorney General Jeffrey A. Rosen’s Video Statement on the Seizure of the U.S. Capitol
    In Crime News
    Acting Attorney General Jeffrey A. Rosen delivered the following video statement on the seizure of the U.S. Capitol:
    [Read More…]
  • Missile Defense: Opportunity to Refocus on Strengthening Acquisition Management
    In U.S GAO News
    What GAO FoundThe Department of Defense's (DOD) Missile Defense Agency (MDA) has made some recent progress gaining important knowledge for its Ballistic Missile Defense System (BMDS) by successfully conducting several important tests. In addition, the agency made substantial improvements to the clarity of its cost and schedule baselines since first reporting them in 2010, and declared the first major deployment of U.S. missile defense in Europe operational in December 2011. MDA also took steps to reduce acquisition risk by decreasing the overlap between technology and product development for two of its programs.MDA faces considerable challenges in executing acquisition programs; strengthening accountability; assessing alternatives before making new investment commitments; developing and deploying U.S. missile defense in Europe and using modeling and simulations to understand capabilities and limitations of the BMDS. The appointment of a new director for MDA provides an opportunity to address these challenges. More specifically:Interceptor production for three of MDA's systems has been significantly disrupted during the past few years due to high-risk acquisition strategies which have resulted in delaying planned deliveries to the warfighter, raising costs, and disrupting the industrial base. Further, MDA continues to follow high-risk acquisition strategies for other programs. For example, its Targets and Countermeasures program is adding risk to an upcoming complex, costly operational flight test involving multiple MDA systems because it plans to use unproven targets.While MDA made substantial improvements to the clarity of its reported cost and schedule baselines, MDA's estimates are not comprehensive because they do not include costs from military services in reported life-cycle costs for its programs. Instability due to MDA's frequent adjustments to its acquisition baselines makes assessing progress over time using these baselines extremely difficult and, in many cases, impossible.While MDA has conducted some analyses that consider alternatives in selecting which acquisitions to pursue, it did not conduct robust analyses of alternatives for two of its new programs, both of which were recently proposed for cancellation.During the past several years, MDA has been responding to a mandate from the President to develop and deploy new missile defense systems in Europe for the defense of Europe and the United States. GAO's work continues to find that a key challenge facing DOD is to keep individual system acquisitions synchronized with the planned deployment time frames.MDA has also struggled for years to develop the tools--the models and simulations--to understand the capabilities and limitations of the individual systems before they are deployed. While MDA recently committed to a new approach that could enable them to credibly model individual programs and system-level BMDS performance, warfighters will not benefit from this effort until after the first two of the currently planned three phases for U.S. missile defense in Europe have been deployed in 2011 and 2015 respectively.Why GAO Did This StudyIn order to meet its mission, MDA is developing a highly complex group of systems comprised of land-, sea-, and space-based sensors to track missiles, as well as ballistic missile interceptors and a battle management system. These systems can be integrated in different ways to provide protection in various regions of the world. Since its initiation in 2002, MDA has been given a significant amount of flexibility in executing the development and fielding of the ballistic missile defense system. This statement addresses recent MDA progress and the challenges it faces with its acquisition management. It is based on GAO's April 2013 report and reports on missile defense issued from September 2008 through July 2012.
    [Read More…]
  • Justice Department Requires Substantial Divestitures in Gray’s Acquisition of Quincy to Protect American Consumers and Small Businesses
    In Crime News
    The Department of Justice announced today that it will require Gray Television Inc. and Quincy Media Inc. to divest 10 broadcast television stations in seven local markets as a condition of resolving a challenge to Gray’s proposed $925 million acquisition of Quincy.
    [Read More…]
  • The 10th Anniversary of the Great East Japan Earthquake
    In Crime Control and Security News
    Antony J. Blinken, [Read More…]
  • Cotulla man sentenced for trafficking over 1000 pounds of marijuana
    In Justice News
    A 37-year-old local man [Read More…]
  • JPMorgan Chase & Co. Agrees To Pay $920 Million in Connection with Schemes to Defraud Precious Metals and U.S. Treasuries Markets
    In Crime News
    JPMorgan Chase & Co. (JPMorgan), a New York, New York-based global banking and financial services firm, has entered into a resolution with the Department of Justice to resolve criminal charges related to two distinct schemes to defraud: the first involving tens of thousands of episodes of unlawful trading in the markets for precious metals futures contracts, and the second involving thousands of episodes of unlawful trading in the markets for U.S. Treasury futures contracts and in the secondary (cash) market for U.S. Treasury notes and bonds.
    [Read More…]
  • Embassy Construction: State Department Has Implemented Management Reforms, but Challenges Remain
    In U.S GAO News
    Since the 1998 bombings of two U.S. embassies in Africa, the State Department has done much to improve physical security at overseas posts. However, most overseas diplomatic office facilities still do not meet the security standards State developed to protect these sites from terrorist attacks and other dangers. To correct this problem, State in 1999 embarked on an estimated $21 billion embassy construction program. The program's key objective is to provide secure, safe, and functional compounds for employees overseas--in most cases by building replacement facilities. In 2001, State's Bureau of Overseas Buildings Operations (OBO)--which manages the program--began instituting reforms in its structure and operations to meet the challenges of the embassy construction program. This report discusses (1) OBO's mechanisms for more effectively managing the embassy construction program and (2) the status of and challenges facing the program. We received comments from State, which said that the report is a fair and accurate representation overall of the Department's overseas construction process.OBO in 2001 began instituting organizational and management reforms designed to cut costs, put in place standard designs and review processes, and reduce the construction period for new embassies and consulates. OBO now has mechanisms to more effectively manage the embassy construction program, including (1) an annual Long-Range Overseas Buildings Plan to guide the planning and execution of the program over a 6-year period; (2) monthly project reviews at headquarters; (3) an Industry Advisory Panel for input on current best practices in the construction industry; (4) expanded outreach to contractors in an effort to increase the number of bidders; (5) ongoing work to standardize and streamline the planning, design, and construction processes, including initiation of design-build contract delivery and a standard embassy design for most projects; (6) additional training for OBO headquarters and field staff; and (7) advance identification and acquisition of sites. State's program to replace about 185 vulnerable embassies and consulates is in its early stages, but the pace of initiating and completing new construction projects has increased significantly over the past two fiscal years. As of September 30, 2003, State had started construction of 22 projects to replace facilities at risk of terrorist or other attacks. Overall, 16 projects have encountered challenges that have led or, if not overcome, could ultimately lead to extensions in the completion date or cost increases in the construction contract. According to OBO, project delays have occurred because of such factors as changes in project design and security requirements; difficulties hiring appropriate American and local labor with the necessary clearances and skills; differing site conditions; and unforeseen events such as civil unrest. In addition, the U.S. government has had problems coordinating funding for projects that include buildings for the U.S. Agency for International Development. None of the projects started since OBO instituted its reforms has been completed; thus GAO believes it is too early to assess the effectiveness of the reforms in ensuring that new embassy and consulate compounds are built within the approved project budget and on time.
    [Read More…]
  • Department of State Announces Online Publication of 2019 Digest of United States Practice in International Law
    In Crime Control and Security News
    Office of the [Read More…]
  • Charleston County School District Agrees to Provide Language Access for Limited English Proficient Parents
    In Crime News
    Today the Justice Department announced a settlement agreement with the Charleston County School District to resolve its investigation into complaints that the school district failed to communicate essential information to thousands of Spanish-speaking, limited English proficient (LEP) parents, denying their children full and equal access to the district’s education programs and services. The Civil Rights Division and the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of South Carolina conducted the investigation under Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Equal Educational Opportunities Act of 1974.
    [Read More…]
  • FBI Report on Crime Shows Decline in Violent Crime Rate for Third Consecutive Year
    In Crime News
    Today, the Federal Bureau of Investigation released its 2019 edition of Crime in the United States, which showed that violent crime decreased nationwide for the third consecutive year.  After decreases in both 2017 and 2018, the violent crime rate dropped an additional one percent this past year and the property crime rate decreased 4.5 percent.
    [Read More…]
  • Secretary Pompeo’s Meeting with French Foreign Minister Le Drian
    In Crime Control and Security News
    Office of the [Read More…]
  • Negative COVID-19 Test Required for Travel to the United States Beginning January 26
    In Crime Control and Security News
    Office of the [Read More…]
Network News © 2005 Area.Control.Network™ All rights reserved.