Fixing the Foul Play: Mitigating the Environmental and Public Health Damage Caused by the Volkswagen Emissions Scandal

Center for American Progress / by By Greg Dotson, Alison Cassady, Myriam Alexander-Kearns

[Politico’s Morning Energy — email] The Center for American Progress is out today with a new report today recommending that EPA and DOJ make Volkswagen pay in multiple ways for its tricky, emissions-test-deceiving diesel vehicles. The report outlines the potential downsides of a recall effort, like the possibility consumers may opt not to retrofit their cars and the likelihood for uneven enforcement across states and localities. It instead calls for the feds to take a three-pronged approach to compelling the automaker to right its wrongs.

[CAP Site] …The Center for American Progress recommends that the EPA and the DOJ pursue a three-pronged approach to resolve these alleged violations:

  • Require Volkswagen to mitigate or offset the NOx emissions attributable to its past or ongoing violations by replacing or retrofitting diesel engines in publicly operated vehicle fleets with cleaner technology. The EPA often includes mitigation actions as part of final settlements with companies regarding violations of the Clean Air Act, Clean Water Act, and other statutes.
  • Assess large civil penalties for these violations in order to dissuade other carmakers from violating the law in the future. The Clean Air Act sets a maximum penalty of $37,500 for each vehicle with the illegal software. Consequently, Volkswagen could face more than $18 billion in monetary penalties.
  • Work with Volkswagen to develop a significant Supplemental Environmental Project, or SEP, to clean up the U.S. transportation sector. Volkswagen would be motivated to work with the EPA to create a SEP, which could offset a portion of the civil penalties while achieving concrete pollution reductions. The SEP should direct a substantial amount of funds, perhaps calculated on a per-car basis, to create a fund for state and local governments, as well as private-sector entities, to implement projects to reduce pollution from on-road vehicles and increase deployment of zero-emission electric vehicles.

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