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Tractor Supply Company Inc. Settlement

(Washington, DC – September 30, 2015) Tennessee-based Tractor Supply Company Inc. and Tractor Supply Company of Texas, L.P. (collectively, “Tractor Supply Company” or “TSC”) have agreed to pay a civil penalty of $775,000 to resolve Clean Air Act (CAA) violations stemming from the illegal importation and sale of about 28,000 uncertified vehicles and engines.

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Overview of Company

Tractor Supply Company is a national rural lifestyle retail supply chain with stores in 49 states.  Evidence of the violations resolved in this settlement was obtained through TSC’s response to a CAA Section 208 information request from the EPA, and inspections of imported TSC products at the Ports of Dallas and Chicago. 

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The settlement resolves violations of CAA Title II and 40 CFR Parts 86, 90, 1051 and 1068, concerning the importation and sale of about 28,000 uncertified all-terrain vehicles, off-highway motorcycles, and engines that varied from the certificates of conformity that the company submitted to EPA.

The illegal vehicles had adjustable carburetors that were not described in their application for certification, were produced by a different manufacturer than the one specified in the application, were manufactured prior to the date of the certificate of conformity, had model names that were not identified on the certificate of conformity, or were significantly more powerful than described. The illegal engines were incorrectly certified as non-road engines rather than as recreational vehicles and some were significantly more powerful than described in the allegedly applicable certificate of conformity. The EPA and the U.S. Department of Justice also alleged that the emission control information labels on certain vehicles did not comply with federal regulations, and that Tractor Supply Company provided an incomplete and inaccurate response to EPA’s information request.  

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Injunctive Relief

Under the settlement, Tractor Supply Company will spend about $85,000 per year for the next five years to implement a compliance plan to prevent future violations and complete an emissions mitigation project to mitigate the adverse environmental effects of equipment already sold to consumers.  The corporate compliance plan under the settlement requires regular vehicle and engine inspections, emissions and catalyst testing, staff training and reporting to EPA.

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Pollutant Impacts

EPA estimates that the illegal vehicles and engines already sold by Tractor Supply Company have contributed to excess emissions of 23.5 tons of excess hydrocarbon and nitrogen oxide emissions and 12.2 tons of excess carbon monoxide emissions.

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Health Effects and Environmental Benefits

Recreational vehicles emit carbon monoxide, hydrocarbons, and nitrogen oxides that contribute to the formation of ground-level ozone.

  • Nitrogen Oxides – Nitrogen oxides can cause or contribute to a variety of health problems and adverse environmental impacts, such as ground-level ozone, acid rain, global warming, water quality deterioration, and visual impairment. Affected populations include children and people with lung diseases such as asthma. Exposure to these conditions can cause damage to lung tissue for people who work or exercise outside.
  • Ground-level ozone – Ground-level ozone is formed by reactions involving hydrocarbons and NOx in the presence of sunlight. Breathing ozone can trigger a variety of health problems, including chest pain, coughing, throat irritation, and congestion. It also can worsen bronchitis, emphysema, and asthma. Ground-level ozone damages vegetation and ecosystems as well. In the United States, ozone is responsible for an estimated $500 million in reduced crop production each year.
  • Carbon monoxide  – Carbon monoxide is a colorless, odorless gas that is formed when carbon in fuel is not burned completely. It is a component of motor vehicle exhaust, which contributes about 56 percent of all carbon monoxide emissions nationwide. Carbon monoxide can cause harmful health effects by reducing oxygen delivery to the body's organs (like the heart and brain) and tissues.

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Civil Penalty

The respondents will pay a total civil penalty of $775,000.

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Comment Period

The proposed settlement, lodged in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, is subject to a 30-day public comment period and final court approval.  Information on submitting comments is available at the Department of Justice website.

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Meetu Kaul, Attorney Adviser
Air Enforcement Division
1200 Pennsylvania Avenue
Washington, D.C. 20460
(202) 564-5472

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