Release 05-05      
February 3, 2005
Jerry Martin 
Gennet Paauwe 
(916) 322-2990

Air Quality Regulators Settle with Three California Businesses for Violations

         SACRAMENTO - The California Air Resources Board (ARB) announced today that it has reached agreements with Lowe’s Companies, Inc. (Lowe’s), Sam’s West, Inc. (Sam’s Club), and RMC Pacific Materials (RMC) for a total of $112,100, settling the companies’ violations of clean air regulations.

    “These kinds of violations compound California’s smog problem,” said ARB Executive Officer Catherine Witherspoon.  “Obviously, these products emit more pollutants than their counterparts, but also those emissions are unaccounted for and in unknown amounts.”

    ARB documented string trimmers, leaf blowers and chain saws equipped with non-California certified small off-road engines in Lowe’s retail stores in California.  These engines must be certified to California standards in order to be sold in this state.  Upon notice from ARB, Lowe’s reported the immediate and planned implementation of measures to prevent future sales on non-compliant products in California.  In addition, Lowe’s recalled from California stores all non-compliant and potentially non-compliant products received in California.  ARB and Lowe’s reached a settlement agreement in the amount of $41,600, which was paid to the California Air Pollution Control Fund (APCF); which is used to mitigate various sources of pollution through education and the advancement and use of cleaner technology.

    In November of 2003, ARB staff noted a go-cart offered for sale in Sam’s Club Holiday Gift Guide.  A subsequent investigation showed that the go-cart was equipped with an engine that was not certified to meet California’s standards.  Due to the fact that the non-compliance was discovered early in the holiday season, only 32 units had been sold and 158 units were recalled from Sam’s Club stores throughout the state.  ARB reached a settlement with Sam’s Club that included a payment of $55,500 to the APCF.

    ARB and RMC reached a settlement agreement for violations of the fleet Periodic Smoke Inspection Program (PSIP).  RMC self-reported violations in response to ARB’s aggressive enforcement of past fleet PSIP violations.  RMC reported that they failed to conduct the mandated, self-inspections of heavy-duty diesel engine opacity for part of their statewide fleet during 2003-2004.  After self-reporting these violations, RMC immediately identified these vehicles and had them tested.  All passed applicable inspections.  Additionally, to settle this matter, RMC voluntarily installed low-NOx software on all applicable engines in their California fleet.  RMC paid penalties totaling $15,000 to the APCF.

         The Air Resources Board is a department of the California Environmental Protection Agency.  ARB's mission is to promote and protect public health, welfare, and ecological resources through effective reduction of air pollutants while recognizing and considering effects on the economy.  The ARB oversees all air pollution control efforts in California to attain and maintain health based air quality standards.

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