Skip to main content
Press Release

United States Files Clean Air Lawsuit Against Engine Importer

For Immediate Release
Office of Public Affairs

WASHINGTON—The United States has filed a civil complaint against PowerTrain Inc., Wood Sales Co. Inc., and Tool Mart Inc., all based in Golden, Miss., alleging that they imported and sold more than 78,000 Chinese-made engines that do not meet federal air pollution standards, the Justice Department and Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced.

The lawsuit filed in U.S. District Court in Washington, D.C., is part of an ongoing effort to ensure that imported non-road engines and equipment comply with the Clean Air Act’s emissions standards. The filing marks the first federal court action enforcing the Clean Air Act’s emissions standards for portable generators, water pumps and other "non-handheld equipment."

The complaint alleges that the non-road engines imported and sold by Powertrain, Wood Sales and Tool Mart from September 2002 through at least May 2007 were not certified to meet applicable emission standards. The Clean Air Act prohibits any non-road engine from being imported and sold in the U.S. unless covered by a "certificate of conformity" indicating that the engine meets applicable emission standards. The complaint also alleges that the companies failed to provide buyers with the full emission-system warranty required by the Clean Air Act for all of the non-road engines that were sold, to install proper emission-compliance labels on many of the engines and to fully respond to EPA’s administrative information requests issued under the Clean Air Act.

The complaint, filed by the Department of Justice on behalf of the EPA, seeks civil penalties up to the maximum amount authorized by law, as well as actions by the companies to remedy the violations and to mitigate any excess pollutant emissions caused by the violations.

EPA estimates the engines have contributed to excess emissions of more than 150 tons of hydrocarbons and nitrogen oxides, and more than 5,000 tons of carbon monoxide.

Non-road engines emit carbon monoxide, as well as volatile organic compounds and nitrogen oxides that contribute to the formation of ground-level ozone or smog. Exposure to even low levels of ozone can cause respiratory problems, and repeated exposure can aggravate pre-existing respiratory diseases.

In 1995, EPA established regulations to reduce emissions of hydrocarbons from small gasoline-powered non-road engines. To obtain a certificate of conformity for non-road engines from EPA, a manufacturer must submit an application that describes the non-road engine and its emission control system, and that demonstrates that the non-road engines will meet applicable federal emissions standards. After obtaining a certificate of conformity, applicants must also comply with specific labeling, warranty and other requirements to ensure that the non-road engines will meet emissions standards in use.

Updated September 15, 2014

Press Release Number: 09-521