Ohio diesel shop owner pleads guilty for tampering with emissions devices

Trucking news and briefs for Friday, Dec. 29, 2023:

Ohio diesel shop owner pleads guilty to Clean Air Act violations

An Ohio man pleaded guilty in November to removing emissions control devices required by the Clean Air Act from customers’ vehicles after previously agreeing to a civil resolution with the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for similar misconduct.

According to court documents, David Owens, 33, of Cleves, was previously a co-owner and operator of a diesel shop based in North Bend, Ohio. In 2020, Owens entered a consent agreement and final order with the EPA regarding allegations that he knowingly removed or rendered inoperative various emissions control devices.

As part of this civil resolution, Owens agreed to cease removing these devices. Instead, the Department of Justice reported that he continued this activity through another company, this time called Cincy Diesel, at the same North Bend location.

According to a late November press release from the DOJ, removing or disabling a vehicle’s emissions control system can increase particulate matter emissions by a factor of 40 times, nitrogen oxides by a factor of 310 times, carbon monoxide by a factor of 120 times, and non-methane hydrocarbons by a factor of 1,100 times.

Owens pleaded guilty to aiding and abetting the tampering with a monitoring device required under the Clean Air Act. He will be sentenced on a future date. A federal district court judge will determine any sentence after considering the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory factors.

[Related: Cummins to pay $1.675B penalty for alleged Clean Air Act violations, 'emissions defeat' devices]

FMCSA’s Truck Leasing Task Force meeting in January

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s Truck Leasing Task Force will hold its first meeting of 2024 on Jan. 18 from 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Eastern.

The meeting will be held virtually, and attendees are asked to register in advance by Jan. 12. Registration will be available in the coming days.

TLTF will begin consideration of Task 24-1, officially titled “Inequitable leasing agreements and terms in the motor carrier industry and whether they affect the frequency of maintenance performed on subjected vehicles and whether a vehicle is kept in a general state of good repair.” In addition, FMCSA will provide an ethics presentation to the TLTF members.

Oral comments from the public will be heard during designated comment periods at the discretion of the TLTF chair and designated federal officer.

[Related: Truck Leasing Task Force explores path forward]