With all the bad news and controversy piling up against Harley-Davidson in 2020, the company has finally caught a break. A US district judge has ruled the company can avoid paying a $3-million settlement in an anti-pollution case that stretches back for several years.
According to Reuters, this is all fallout from the 2016 showdown between Harley-Davidson and the feds, where H-D ended up with $12 million in fines, and promising not to sell accessories that changed its motorcycles’ tailpipe emissions, causing an increase in pollution. As part of the deal, Harley-Davidson also agreed to put $3 million towards a program that helped homeowners retrofit or replace their woodstoves, upgrading to home heating appliances that put out less pollution. Sort of a weird trade-off, but once the courts and the feds get involved, expect no less.
Anyway, ever since that massive multi-million scrap, there’s been follow-up intrigue going on in the courts. When Jeff Sessions was Attorney-General in 2017, the Justice Department announced it would re-examine the $3 million fine, and now it’s dropped it. Environmental groups and 10 state governments objected, but it seems the Justice Department reckons the three mill was an unfair penalty.
Whatever the reason, it should mark the end of this case, which has been going on in the background ever since Harley-Davidson got in trouble for selling tuner parts. H-D said these were sold for closed-course use only, but environmental groups disagreed. Harley-Davidson was fined heavily, and bought back unsold tuners from dealers. Now, it says it only sells CARB-approved tuners, and has destroyed the parts that didn’t meet CARB’s requirements.