March 01, 2016

The Volkswagen air pollution emissions scam

Professor Arnold W. Reitze, Jr.

On September 18, 2015, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced that Volkswagen sold 482,000 diesel engine vehicles in the United States that were programmed to pass the government’s emissions tests, but under normal driving conditions would emit air pollutants significantly above legal limits. Interestingly, EPA only recently discovered the cheating through the results of an independent study, even though it had been going on for many years. The International Council on Clean Transportation (ICCT), a European environmental group, wanted to have the U.S. technology adopted for European motor vehicles because Volkswagen was meeting emission standards in the United States that were more stringent than those imposed in the European Union. The ICCT provided a grant to West Virginia’s Center for Alternative Fuels, Engines and Emissions (CAFEE) to study emissions during real-world driving. After extensive testing of various Volkswagen diesel models in California, and driving test diesel vehicles to Seattle, the CAFEE researchers concluded the vehicle’s emissions were exceeding the Clean Air Act (CAA) standards by 5 to 35 times. On March 31, 2014, the results of this study were presented at an industry conference in San Diego, which led to Volkswagen, on September 3, 2015, admitting to U.S. and California regulators that it deliberately outfitted its cars with “defeat devices.”

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