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CBP Steps Up Inspections to Ensure Compliance of Imported Motor Vehicles and Engines

CBP and the Environmental Protection Agency announced on 19 February that a 90-day joint operation targeting foreign-made vehicles and equipment imported without proper emission controls yielded the seizure or exportation back to the country of origin of more than 730 items, including all-terrain vehicles, motorcycles, engines and generators. These actions, as well as prior EPA inspections, resulted in eight enforcement cases against companies that will pay more than US$57,000 in civil penalties. The individual penalties are fairly small because the companies involved were first-time violators, a joint press release states, but "penalties will significantly rise" if additional violations are found.

The press release states that as a result of the success of this operation, the EPA will continue to conduct inspections with CBP at the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach on a monthly basis. Jared Blumenfeld, the EPA's regional administrator for the Pacific Southwest, said "this initiative marks a new chapter in our efforts to prevent air pollution from vehicles and engines."

The Clean Air Act prohibits the importation or sale of any new engines or vehicles unless they are certified by the EPA to meet federal emission standards. Every vehicle and engine sold in the United States must be covered by an EPA-issued certificate of conformity. To obtain such certificates, manufacturers or importers must submit to the EPA an application that describes the engine or vehicle, including its emission control system. The application must also provide emissions data demonstrating that the engines and vehicles will meet applicable federal emission standards.

Under the joint operation, the EPA conducted inspections at the ports and worked with CBP to investigate companies that had previously imported engines and vehicles. These inspections found that numerous companies imported vehicles and engines without proper certification.

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