Sinister Diesel, a California-based truck parts manufacturer, has been slapped with a heavy fine for selling devices that defeat a vehicle’s emissions controls.
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For 10 years, Sinister manufactured and sold “delete devices” or “defeat devices” that allow vehicles like diesel trucks to dramatically increase the amount of pollutants they put in the air. The practice, often referred to as “rolling coal,” can cause engines to emit massive black clouds of exhaust fumes.
According to the U.S. Justice Department, Sinister also sold “delete kits” that sometimes came bundled with “delete tunes,” third-party software that can make a vehicle with defeated emissions controls appear to run normally. The company is also accused of advising customers on the deleting process and on how to get around state emissions tests.
If you’ve ever been near a vehicle when it lets off a huge plume of sooty smoke, you know that it doesn’t smell great. The DOJ said EPA testing shows that a vehicle with defeated emissions controls can give off more than 100 times the amount of air pollutants as compared to a vehicle running normally.
Several states including Colorado, Maryland and New Jersey have introduced penalties for “rolling coal.” In 2020, the EPA fined Discovery Channel reality stars the Diesel Brothers $850,000 for customizing trucks to bypass emissions standards.
Now, Sinister will have to pay $1 million in criminal fines and civil penalties. The company pleaded guilty to conspiracy to violate the Clean Air Act and to tampering with emissions monitoring devices on diesel trucks. The company also violated the CAA’s prohibition against the sale or manufacture of devices that bypass, defeat or render inoperative emissions controls.
“Businesses that manufacture and sell illegal devices to defeat a vehicle’s emissions controls foster pollution and risk decades of progress in curtailing harmful emissions from motor vehicles in this country,” said Assistant Attorney General Todd Kim of the Justice Department’s Environment and Natural Resources Division. “The plea agreement and civil settlement show that we will take strong action to enforce the Clean Air Act and ensure that emissions control requirements for cars and trucks are being followed.”