Kearney-area owners of diesel-powered vehicles were put on notice last week. If they are sidestepping federal pollution control regulations by disabling clean air components on their vehicles, they could be running afoul of federal law. The components in question help prevent diesel vehicles from spewing black clouds of pollution from their exhaust stacks and tailpipes. For motorists driving conventional gasoline- or electrically powered vehicles, less diesel pollution is very desirable, but cleaner air may be less of a priority for diesel vehicle owners.
That’s because running clean comes at the cost of reduced horsepower and increased manufacturing costs.
The Clean Air Act lightens owners’ wallets first and later it robs their vehicles of performance. Some owners are fighting back by installing defeat devices that neutralize the effects of clean air devices on their diesels.
The EPA’s clean air battle is two-sided. While some owners install disabling devices, the EPA is making it tough on the businesses supplying and installing the devices.
Last week we learned the EPA has fined South Central Diesel Inc. of Holdrege almost $51,000 for installing or selling “defeat devices” that make emission controls inoperative. EPA also fined an Iowa company $75,000 for similar infractions.
The EPA has made identifying and stopping aftermarket defeat devices a national compliance initiative. So far EPA reports it has “resolved” more than 70 cases in the last five years. Although businesses have been at the receiving end of EPA’s enforcement efforts, diesel vehicle owners should not be shocked if the, too are targeted. While shop operators sold and installed the devices for a profit, the vehicle owners using the defeat devices are directly polluting the atmosphere.
We hope additional enforcement efforts are unnecessary in our region. Violators might believe they aren’t appreciably damaging the environment, but we all must remember that we all can make a difference.
Just as our seemingly insignificant individual efforts can add up to cleaner air, the opposite is true with emissions. Belching plumes of black diesel particulate into the air not only is ugly, it also is a step backward on the road to a healthier planet.