A diesel workshop that features on the US Discovery Channel has been fined a whopping US$850,000 ($1.2m) for building and selling diesel-powered vehicles that not only eschew the boundaries of good taste, but emit up to 34 times the pollutants allowed in the state of Utah.
The hosts of Diesel Brothers, David ‘Heavy D’ Sparks and David ‘Diesel Dave’ Kiley, may also be up for almost A$2m in legal costs, after District Court Judge Robert Shelby slammed the pair for violating Utah’s Clean Air Act and for profiteering off their actions.
The plaintiffs, Utah Physicians for a Healthy Environment, bought a Diesel Brothers rig and had it tested, recording levels of pollution emission 34 times higher than the state’s law allowed.
The hosts have made a reputation for themselves by modifying diesel-powered pickups and trucks to feature on their show and to sell through their business.
The pair were banned from removing items like diesel particulate filters and exhaust gas recirculation valves two years ago, following a complaint filed in 2016 by Utah Physicians for a Healthy Environment president, Brian Moench.
The complaint alleged that the hosts were illegally removing pollution control gear, installing defective emission control parts and then either selling or operating the vehicles.
The two made their social media fame and fortune through stunts like this ‘coal-rolling’ of a Toyota Prius.
However, Sparks told US website Hard Working Trucks in 2016 that the show was opposed to the notion of coal-rolling, where diesel vehicles are made to emit clouds of black smoke on command.
“We are big advocates for not rolling coal," he said in the 2016 interview. "It’s stupid. We’ve all been there. Everybody who’s owned a diesel pickup has at one point hit the gas, looked out the rear-view mirror and said, ‘That’s kind of cool.’ But it’s got to stop there because it’s not something that’s going to help the industry by any means.
“Our number one goal - we work really closely with the EPA outside and inside of the show - is to say that rolling coal is not cool. Blowing smoke is not cool. Don’t do something to your truck that’s not only going to potentially hurt the environment, but the industry.”
Later editions of the show, which runs on the Discovery Channel, appear to have moved away from the antics of the early days, but the fine is the largest of its kind ever handed out to convicted polluters in the state.
However, it seems like the lads can afford it, with Sparks buying his own island in Utah’s Great Salt Lake a couple of years ago for A$1.4m.