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United States v. Chrysler Corp.

Citation: 9 ELR 20091
No. No. 77-2098, 591 F.2d 958/12 ERC 1734/(D.C. Cir., 01/12/1979) Aff'd

The court affirms a lower court's imposition of a $3,700 civil penalty on defendant for marketing 37 motor vehicles in violation of § 203(a) of the Clean Air Act. Section 203(a)(1) of the Act provides that only vehicles covered by a "certificate of conformity" may be distributed in interstate commerce and the Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA's) implementing regulations provide further that such a certificate covers only those new vehicles which conform in all material respects to the design specifications in the manufacturer's application for certification. The district court correctly held that the 37 vehicles in this case were not covered by the certificate of conformity issued by EPA because of the presence of erroneously installed parts which were not identified in the design specifications and which reasonably may be expected to affect emission controls. Defendant's assertion that the misbuilt vehicles are covered by the certificate because they meet federal emissions standards is erroneous; the language of the statute and the regulations commands that each vehicle conform to design specifications. The court also rejects the argument that by waiving federal preemption of California emissions control standards, EPA waived federal enforcement authority over the 25 vehicles that were sold in California.

Counsel for Plaintiff-Appellee
James W. Moorman, Ass't Attorney General; John E. Varnum, Angus MacBeth, Dirk D. Snel
Land and Natural Resources Division
Department of Justice, Washington DC 20530
(202) 633-2735

Counsel for Defendant-Appellant
James A. Hourihan, Gail Starling Marshall
Hogan & Hartson
815 Connecticut Ave. NW, Washington DC 20006
(202) 331-4500

Before TAMM, ROBINSON, and MacKINNON, Circuit Judges.