“We had no knowledge of the law,” Nor-Cal’s Chief Financial Officer Todd Achando told CalWatchDog, a news blog that monitors California government. “My operations manager happened to see it mentioned in a trade magazine about a year and a half after the deadline passed.” Because Nor-Cal reported itself to CARB and “cooperated,” the agency reduced the $200/day fine from $86,600 to $32,500.
Kit Enger and his fellow dune buggy manufacturers also cooperated with CARB, but found it was like dealing with a mob “protection racket.” Enger, president of the Compliant Car Builders Association in Oceanside, California, said association members attended the agency’s “implementation outreach workshop” for OHRV (off-highway recreational vehicles) and worked “diligently with CARB certification staff to devise a program whereby all industry members could efficiently and effectively certify their vehicles and engines.” Despite the increased costs and inconvenience of complying with CARB’s new regulations, association members thought things were going pretty well — until January 2008 when CARB hit them with $3.6 million in penalties for alleged violations. The association’s lawyers worked the fine down to $600,000, but Enger says even that penalty was unconstitutional, amounting to an ex post facto prosecution for engines modified and sold before the new CARB regulations went into effect.
“My lawyers said it would cost more than $600,000 to fight it, so we might as well pay it. It’s like a protection racket — government out of control,” said Enger. When he testified before CARB in November 2009, Enger told the board that one of their CARB enforcement officers had told him on two occasions, “If you guys don’t get on with this settlement, it doesn’t matter to us if you go out of business, change your name, move to another state, or die, we will find you and attach your assets.”