Friday, March 31, 2017

Volkswagen agrees to environmental settlement

Washington will receive $28 million 

Volkswagen Group has settled with the Department of Ecology over environmental penalty
claims for violating the Washington Clean Air Act.

In 2016, Ecology issued a $176 million penalty to Volkswagen. After reaching a multistate settlement Wednesday, March 29, Volkswagen has agreed to pay 10 states $157 million – $28 million of which will go to Washington.

The automaker sold diesel vehicles with sophisticated emissions software that only turned on a vehicle’s full suite of emissions controls when the car’s emissions were being tested, then turned them off during normal driving.

The 22,000 affected diesel vehicles in Washington emitted up to 40 times the permitted levels of nitrogen oxides – a harmful air pollutant. The settlement was based on a per-vehicle violation.

In addition to the financial component, Volkswagen has agreed to introduce three battery-electric vehicles that are not currently available in Washington. The models will include the e-Golf and two sports utility vehicles and will be available between 2019 and at least 2025.

Exposure to the harmful diesel pollutants is linked to a range of serious health effects, including increased asthma attacks, and contributes to premature death from respiratory-related or cardiovascular disease. Children, the elderly, and people with pre-existing respiratory diseases are particularly vulnerable to these pollutants.

Ecology recommends that the settlement money be used to reduce harmful diesel pollution in densely populated areas with high levels of air pollution.

The $28 million state settlement is separate from the federal settlement Volkswagen reached with the Environmental Protection Agency and the Department of Justice. 

By Camille St. Onge, communications, 360-584-6501

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