Two California consulting firms have agreed to pay more than $3.5 million to settle allegations they falsely certified that more than 24,000 recreational vehicles imported from China met emissions standards under U.S. law, said the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).
According to the Associated Press, the EPA and the state of California filed separate lawsuits in federal court in 2011 against MotorScience Inc., MotorScience Enterprise Inc. and the firms’ owner, Chi Zheng.
The state will receive 20% of the penalties and the federal government will receive 80%, the agency said in a statement.
MotorScience was an engine certification consultant that helped overseas vehicle manufacturers and importers get EPA certificates stating their engines met clean air standards — a requirement of doing business in the U.S.
An EPA investigation, however, found the company secured the certificates for many vehicles without doing testing, resulting in the illegal import of 24,478 all-terrain recreational vehicles.
A number for MotorScience Enterprise was disconnected and a representative could not be reached for comment.
The agreement also states that, for the next 15 years, MotorScience and Zheng must undergo a strict monitoring process before they do any work involving off-road vehicles and engines.
MotorScience would test a small number of vehicles for import and then use those results repeatedly to get certificates for other vehicles, the EPA said. In at least three instances, those vehicles exceeded the federal limits for hydrocarbons and nitrogen oxides.
This is not the first time MotorScience has been in trouble with the EPA.
In 2010, the agency voided 12 certificates held by four U.S.-based importers of Chinese recreational vehicles who were clients of MotorScience.
The firms are based in the City of Industry about 30 miles east of Los Angeles.