Diesel Brothers Hit with $850,000 Air Pollution Penalty
Discovery Channel celebrities also banned for life from defeating emission controls in vehicles
(Monday, March 9, 2020 – Salt Lake City, UT) –In a significant victory for cleaner air and the rule of law, defendants who appear on Discovery Channel’s “Diesel Brothers” received an $850,000 penalty and a permanent ban on defeating pollution controls as a consequence of violating the Clean Air Act hundreds of times.
The court ruled that none of this debt can be avoided or discharged in bankruptcy.
Utah Physicians for a Healthy Environment brought their Clean Air Act enforcement action against Diesel Brothers in 2017. The remedy trial was held over several days in November, 2019.
Last Friday, Federal Court Chief Judge Robert J. Shelby found Diesel Brothers, including David Sparks (“Heavy D”), Joshua Stuart (“Redbeard”) and Keaton Hoskins (“The Muscle”), and several of their companies, to have willfully violated the Clean Air Act more than 400 times by removing pollution controls from vehicles, installing emission control defeat devices in vehicles, selling illegal defeat kits and straight pipes, and using illegally tampered vehicles as sweepstakes prizes.
“A recent poll showed that 95% of Utahns consider our air pollution a serious problem, and the medical research is overwhelming that we are all affected by it, said UPHE President Dr. Brian Moench. “Illegally stripped down and modified diesel trucks have no place on our roadways. Any business that not only profits from doing that, but glorifies the plumes of pollution that their handiwork produces, should be held accountable, and that’s what this ruling does.”
“Diesel exhaust makes up half of the air pollution from mobile sources in the Wasatch Front and those drivers with tampered diesel trucks are a large part of the problem. These lawbreakers hurt the health of our families and our community and need to be stopped,” said Dr. Kirtly Jones, UPHE Board Member.
UPHE’s trial attorneys were Reed Zars and George Hays.
“We are gratified by today’s decision from the court, both for its adhesion to the facts and its fidelity to the law,” noted Zars. “For those who may persist in tampering with vehicle emission controls after this decision the message is clear, you are harming the health of your community and you are breaking the law,” Zars concluded.
“With this ruling Utah Physicians for a Healthy Environment have achieved an important milestone in the fight for clean air along the Wasatch Front,” said Jonny Vasic, Executive Director for UPHE. “Diesel emissions are a major contributor to air pollution and we should have zero tolerance for anyone that tries to profit from something that brazenly sacrifices the health of others.”
According to Judge Shelby’s 58-page ruling (click here):
- One of Diesel Brothers’ tampered trucks “emits NOx at a rate of thirty-six times its original EPA certified emissions rate and emits particulate matter at a rate of twenty-one times its original EPA certified emission rate.” P. 8.
- “Defendants’ . . . violations were numerous, occurred over a long period of time, significantly increased the toxic pollutants emitted by diesel trucks, and pose a serious risk to human health. At bottom, the tampered trucks and the defeat parts continue to endanger human health, regardless of where they are.” P. 49.
- “Defendants experienced many economic benefits from their removal of emission control devices, installation of defeat parts, sale of defeat parts, and ownership or operation of tampered vehicles. These economic benefits continue extending well beyond the profits from these prohibited activities to Defendants’ status as television and social media celebrities, the reputation and notoriety of their brands, and the economic leverage they have used to accumulate assets and start new businesses.” Pp. 24-25.
- The anti-tampering and anti-defeat prohibitions in CAA Section 203(a)(3) and the Utah SIP are enforceable by citizens as “emission standards or limitations” because they “limit the quantity, rate, or concentration of emissions of air pollutants on a continuous basis.” P. 32.
- “B&W Auto still owns three (3) vehicles that currently violate the CAA: Brodozer, Hercules, and Mega Ram Runner.” P. 29.
- “B&W Auto produced no evidence of good faith efforts to comply with the [Clean Air Act].” P. 49
- “B&W Auto has not restored any of the tampered vehicles.” P. 49.
- “The balance of harms weighs in favor of requiring Defendants to comply with the law.” P. 56.
- “These penalties are nondischargeable in bankruptcy under 11 U.S.C. § 523(a)(7) because they are payable to and for the benefit of the United States Treasury and are not compensation for actual pecuniary loss.” P. 58.
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Utah Physicians for a Healthy Environment was formed in 2007 during one of Utah’s worse inversions. The organization consists of approximately 400 medical professionals within Utah, and another 4,000 supporting members of the public. UPHEis dedicated to protecting the health and well-being of the citizens of Utah by promoting science-based health education and interventions that result in progressive and measurable improvements to the environment and our health. UPHE can be found at www.uphe.org or on Facebook.