The U.S. Department of Justice on Monday filed suit against Volkswagen, charging that the German auto-maker deliberately rigged cars to cheat emissions tests resulting in potentially millions of tons of greenhouse gas emissions and untold damage to the atmosphere.
The civil suit, filed on behalf of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, alleges that nearly 600,000 diesel engine vehicles had illegal defeat devices installed that impair their emission control systems and cause emissions to exceed EPA’s standards. Further, the complaint states that Volkswagen violated the Clean Air Act by bringing to U.S. market vehicles that were designed differently than the company had stated in applications for certification to EPA and the California Air Resources Board (CARB).
“With today’s filing, we take an important step to protect public health by seeking to hold Volkswagen accountable for any unlawful air pollution, setting us on a path to resolution,” said Cynthia Giles, assistant administrator for enforcement and compliance assurance at EPA.
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Environmental groups have estimated that the cheating scandal caused at least 32.2 million tons of extra carbon pollution into the atmosphere, equal to roughly 6.8 million cars.
“What Volkswagen did wasn’t just consumer fraud, it was a crime against our climate and against future generations relying on us for a livable planet,” Peter Galvin, director of programs at the Center of Biological Diversity, said after the scandal first erupted in September when the EPA sent a Notice of Violation of the Clean Air Act to the manufacturer and its subsidiaries.
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