Deere agrees to one million dollar fine for air quality violations

CEDAR FALLS — Deere and Company has agreed to pay a one million dollar fine for violation air quality regulations.

The Iowa Attorney General’s office worked out the settlements that spokesman Lynn Hicks, says involved violations while they tested diesel engines at their performance center in Cedar Falls. “There was a long period of time here that they’ve been burning more fuel then they had been allowed, and emitting pollutants. So, that’s wheat this is about,” Hicks says.

The settlement shows the DNR discovered that Deere had been providing incorrect information and violating emissions limits since 2006. The Performance Engineering Center’s emissions permits were based on the assumption that Deere would use lower-emitting engines, but in reality it used higher-emitting engines that emitted more nitrogen oxides.

Hicks says the violations went on for more than a decade. “The DNR discovered these violations in 2016. They’ve been investigating and negotiating since then. The Environmental Protection Commission took it up and they voted to refer it to our office, and that is how we got involved,” Hicks says.

Hick says Deere agreed not to contest the allegations as part of the settlement with the state. “They’ve also agreed to do annual environmental audits — that would be a third party doing these audits for at least three years — and until they received two consecutive reports with no or minimal violations,” according to Hicks. “So we have the accountability build in, and of course any violations that are found, they would have to correct it very quickly.”

The one million dollar fine is required under Iowa law to go into a special fund. “So it specifically goes to emergency response and other environmental hazardous household waste and air quality. It kind of spells out which money goes where in that code section — as opposed to straight to the DNR, or to us or the general fund,” Hicks explains.

The settlement was entered into Black Hawk County District Court Thursday.