By Russ and Tiña De Maris
Last month we started out on a journey to try and help RVers who’ve been hit with shutdowns or fears of shutdowns with Cummins-equipped rigs. As we mentioned, for an untold number of motorhomers and pickup drivers, the diesel exhaust fluid (DEF) monitoring system issues have them sidelined with engines that refuse to allow them to drive over five miles per hour. No, Cummins isn’t responsible for manufacturing the DEF monitoring systems, but they do have control over the software that de-rates their engines when the DEF system fails. We’ve been trying to work with both Cummins and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency for help, and we’re getting nowhere. It’s time to email Cummins and the EPA.
Eating some crow
It’s also time for us to eat a little crow. At the end of July we posted an article that suggested this same approach. In it, we published the names of top Cummins executives and their email addresses. Apparently that struck a nerve: Within days Cummins begged us to pull those names and addresses. They promised they’d help. They said if we’d publish a single contact person for their outfit, he’d see to it that your concerns would be forwarded “appropriately.” Some readers complained they’d sent an email and never got a response. We asked Cummins’ Jon Mills, the contact man, about this. He emailed us telling us about you: “I am sure there are some I have missed.” He promised to reach out to all.
That’s all very well and good. But when asked about a potential short-term solution to the problem, we got the same response back this week that we did in July. The solution? Since the EPA recognizes that emergency vehicles like fire trucks and ambulances must not be throttled back because of a DEF monitoring system malfunction, they allow industry to program that same monitoring system software to warn – but not de-rate an engine – if the DEF system reports a problem. Why not allow Cummins engines to be reprogrammed in the same way for RVs? Once the shortage of microchips that’s responsible for so many RVers being sidelined is resolved, fix the monitors, and go back to the old programming.
Talk is cheap
Insiders at the EPA said it was possible, and they’d be willing to talk to industry about it. And apparently they have been talking. Here’s the latest statement from Cummins: “We are continuing to work with our OEM partners to address the industry-wide DEF sensor challenges being faced by customers, as well as exploring other ways to overcome this challenge. Specifically, we are actively engaging with the regulators to evaluate potential solutions amid the global microprocessor shortage that is inhibiting the ability of our industry partners to overcome this issue quickly. We remain committed to doing all that we can to alleviate the impact this issue is having on our customers.”
Well, excuse us, but talk is indeed cheap. We reached out to the EPA for its take on the matter. A couple of weeks ago, insider information suggested the EPA was genuinely concerned about your plight. But now, we’re stonewalled. The EPA hasn’t bothered to respond to our inquiries, other than to ask for extensions to respond.
Enough is enough
Enough is enough. It seems we erred when we tried to “play ball” with Cummins and pull their executive contact information. We’re now restoring it. It’s time to email Cummins and the EPA. Here’s that list of Cummins executives, and a little background information on them.
Chief Executive Officer: Tom Linebarger. According to Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) filings, this well-fed executive cashes in a $17,291,581check annually. That’s what? Over $47,000 every day, 7 days a week. Send him your fan mail at email@example.com .
Vice Chairman: Tony Satterhwaite. Satterhwaite takes home $4,607,396 annually (2020 figures). His email is: firstname.lastname@example.org .
Finally, there’s President and Chief Operating Officer, Jennifer Rumsey. She’s new to the company, so we don’t have an SEC filing to learn about how much she’s taking home. You can email her at Jennifer.email@example.com .
So, think about it. If these four people all jumped on the private company jet (yes, the SEC says that’s one of the “perks” they have in their packages) and flew into the same town where your broken down motorhome is waiting a fix, what would it mean? While you’re sweating it out, they’re earning more than $71,000 that day. Could they spare you and the family bus fare to get home?
Write the EPA, too
Next on your mailing list? How about folks that matter at the EPA? Since they’re on your tax-supported paycheck, they probably don’t make anywhere near the amount that Cummins execs do, but they are on your dollar just the same. Here’s their contact information:
The top dog is Michael Regan, EPA’s administrator. He’s relatively new to the job as a political appointee, but certainly knows the public helped get him where he is. His email address is Regan.Michael@epa.gov .
And the man who likely has the most weight in getting something done with industry that will give RVers some relief is EPA’s director of diesel engine compliance. Dr. Allen Duncan has been with the agency for nearly six years, and certainly knows the inner workings of the bureaucracy well. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org .
All of these folks, both from Cummins and the EPA, know of the problem. Maybe what’s missing for some is the human side of the equation. Perhaps if they heard how you’ve been personally affected by this seemingly glacial speed “evaluation of potential solutions” it might touch them. It seems apparent the solutions are there – it’s just getting enough willpower to implement them. Yes, by all means, email Cummins and the EPA.
And one more man who may not know your problems – yet!
But there’s one more person who we’ve not touched on before. On the Cummins board of directors is someone who knows more than just profit margins. He also knows the science because he, himself, is a well-schooled mechanical engineer. Dr. Robert J. Bernhard is a faculty member of the University of Notre Dame. He has extensive experience and “knows his nuts and bolts.” We’re not sure if Dr. Bernhard has been briefed by Cummins execs about this problem, but we’ve sent him an email on the matter. Since it was late in the publishing cycle, we have not yet heard back from him.
As a board member, Dr. Bernhard has company interests at heart. But at the same time, we have a hope that he also has an ear to what may be touching customers. Our advice: Reach out to Dr. Bernhard, let him know your story, ask for his help. His email address is email@example.com .
We’re hopeful that a deluge of concern from Cummins customers, and U.S. taxpayers, can somehow put the human face on this mechanical issue. We’ll keep you posted as to what we hear on our end.
We invite your comments below.
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Photo credits: Cummins executives, cummins.com. Allen Duncan, EPA from rocketreach.com. Dr. Robert Bernhard, nd.edu. Click to enlarge any.