Tallahassee Journal

Justice Department alleges VW violated Clean Air Act

Justice Department alleges VW violated Clean Air Act

The Justice Department filed a civil complaint Monday against Volkswagen alleging nearly 600,000 cars with diesel engines in the U.S. violate emissions laws and that many were imported in violation of the Clean Air Act. The lawsuit was filed in Detroit on behalf of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, which worked with the California Air Resources Board in exposing the violations last year. VW has admitted to rigging cars with 2-liter diesel engines, and the EPA found violations in vehichles with 3-liter diesels as well.volkswagen

The complaint alleges that the nearly 600,000 diesel engine vehicles built since 2009 were equipped with illegal “defeat devices” installed to impair emission control systems. That resulted in higher emissions that allowed by law. The suit also alleges that VW violated the Clean Air Act by importing vehicles into the U.S. that have far higher emissions than are allowed under their certification.

“Car manufacturers that fail to properly certify their cars and that defeat emission control systems breach the public trust, endanger public health and disadvantage competitors,” said Assistant Attorney General John Cruden in a statement. “The United States will pursue all appropriate remedies against Volkswagen to redress the violations of our nation’s clean air laws alleged in the complaint.” The suit was filed against Volkswagen corporate entities in Germany and the U.S. and its Audi and Porsche brands.

The EPA issued a statement saying the suit will hold Volkswagen accountable while it tries to reach a deal with the automaker on how to resolve the issue with recalls. However, EPA Assistant Administrator Cynthia Giles says the talks are not going well so far. “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,” she said in a statement. The complaint says 499,000 cars equipped with the 2-liter, four-cylinder diesel engines were designed to exceed EPA clean-air standards for nitrogen oxides by up to 40 times the legal amount during normal driving. They were rigged with software to detect when they were being tested for emissions. Only then, while being tested, did their engines meet the standard.