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Daimler's Detroit Diesel to pay fine for Clean Air Act violation

Detroit Diesel thought what it was doing was legal, but...nope.

BERLIN - APRIL 08: The logo of German car maker Daimler AG is seen during the annual general meeting at the ICC Berlin on April 8, 2009 in Berlin, Germany. The Board of Management and the Supervisory Board will recommend to today's annual meeting that a dividend of 0.60 euro per share be distributed (prior year: 2.00 euro). The world?s second-largest maker of luxury cars is seeking to streamline its cost structures. (Photo by Andreas Rentz/Getty Images)
Andreas Rentz, Getty Images

Volkswagen ran afoul of the government for willingly ignoring emissions regulations. But what if a company does it accidentally? In the case of Detroit Diesel Corp, fines and penalties still apply.

Detroit Diesel, a subsidiary of Mercedes-Benz parent company Daimler, must shell out $28.5 million for violating the US Clean Air Act, Reuters reports. $14.5 million will go toward reducing pollutants, while the remaining share will be paid as a civil penalty.

The feds allege that Detroit Diesel sold about 7,800 heavy-duty diesel engines that didn't comply with 2010 standards. The engines, which started production in 2009, when the emissions standards were lower, weren't sold until after those regulations tightened. Detroit Diesel thought that would be fine, but clearly, it wasn't.

Of course, there's a reason the company did that. In order to make the push for all those engines to be completed in 2009, it would have had to load up on staff that year, only to fire many and run lower overhead costs in 2010. Instead of entering a protracted legal battle with the EPA, Detroit Diesel decided to settle and pay that $28.5 million. Its engines will not face recall.

The $14.5 million earmarked for reducing pollution will help replace older school bus engines with newer, post-2013 units. The money will also go toward replacing switch locomotives, which are heavy polluters.

The EPA's newfound scrutiny toward diesel is unlikely to change. After Volkswagen admitted to deceiving regulators for years with its "defeat device" software, the feds began treating environmental scofflaws with a heavy hand, as the EPA's whole goal is to, you know, protect the environment.