CARB, American Honda agree on $8M settlement for SORE air-quality compliance violations

SACRAMENTO The California Air Resources Board (CARB) reached a settlement agreement with American Honda Motor Corp., Inc. (Honda) of Torrance for $7.9 million for violations of CARB’s small off-road engine (SORE) air quality regulations. This is the third SORE enforcement action against Honda in the past four years.

In 2021, CARB testing revealed multiple SORE families – mostly small generator engines – did not meet the carbon canister capacity requirements under CARB’s evaporative emission standards and SORE regulations. The carbon canister absorbs excess gasoline vapors from the fuel tank. To address this, Honda requested and was granted a variance which allowed the units to be sold contingent upon meeting specific criteria outlined in the variance. Honda failed to meet the terms, leading to the revocation of the variance. All units sold under the variance were then non-compliant with California regulations and, thus, illegal.

SORE are a major source of pollution in California, surpassing light-duty passenger cars as a source of smog-forming emissions in 2021. This includes the emissions of raw fuel that continue to evaporate from engines, lawn mowers and other equipment even when they are powered off. To address this major source of smog-forming emissions, CARB passed a new regulation in 2021 to transition SORE to zero-emission technologies. This will help California meet its required federal clean air standards, clean the air and significantly reduce harmful emissions for those who work all day with SORE equipment.

“Air quality regulations protect the health of California’s communities, and we have a rigorous enforcement program to ensure they are being met,” said CARB’s Executive Officer Dr. Steven Cliff. “The scope of the settlement makes it clear that reaching zero emissions is a priority that everyone will be held accountable to meet.”

Honda cooperated with CARB to resolve all allegations of violating SORE and Evaporative Emissions Regulations. Honda’s settlement includes a $5,694,452 civil penalty that will go to CARB’s Air Pollution Control Fund, which provides funding for projects and research to improve the state’s air quality. The remaining $2,273,967 will fund the following Supplemental Environmental Projects (SEP):

  • New Voices Are Rising: Envisioning Resilience Hubs in the Community (Rose Foundation for Communities and the Environment, Pasadena), $42,675
  • Inland Empire Environmental Health and Education Connections (El Sol Neighborhood Educational Center), $2,114,484
  • Asthma Impact Model Stanislaus County (Central California Asthma Collaborative), $79,077
  • Side Street Projects – Woodworking Bus (Side Street Projects, Oakland), $37,730

Previously, CARB settled cases with Honda in 2020 and 2021 for nearly $2 million and $7 million, respectively, for other violations of the SORE regulations.

Source: “CARB settles with American Honda Motor Corp., Inc. for nearly $8 million for violations of small off-road engine air quality regulations,” Sept. 13, 2023 CalEPA Air Resources Board news release.

Update: Sept. 17, 2023 at 5:11 p.m. PDT.