Press release

Volkswagen consent decree is a historic milestone [Press statement]

28 June 2016—The consent decree announced today by the Department of Justice, the Environmental Protection Agency, and the Federal Trade Commission in the Volkswagen “clean diesel” case sends the strongest signal ever delivered on the seriousness of the public determination to control and reduce pollution from motor vehicles.

The magnitude of the $14.7 billion settlement is commensurate with the seriousness of VW’s actions in deliberately violating a regulation intended to protect the public health and the environment. It should be a powerful deterrent to future attempts to circumvent vehicle emissions tests in the United States.

It serves also as a powerful reminder that governments, and the public, must pay attention to the entire regulatory system, and not just to standards, if mandated pollution limits are to produce real-world reductions in pollution. Few vehicle emissions regulators outside the United States have the clear, unambiguous, effective authority, coupled with capacity, that would enable them to first prove that a violation such as VW’s was happening and then initiate the type of enforcement action that culminated in today’s settlement agreement. That is a situation that must change if the promise of clean vehicles is to be kept.

We applaud the emissions reduction program and zero emissions technology investments outlined in the consent decree. The $2.7 billion in funding for projects to mitigate NOx emissions will deliver significant health benefits throughout the U.S., especially but not only to children, the elderly, and those already suffering from respiratory or cardiovascular ailments. The $2 billion in funding for public infrastructure as well as public education and awareness of zero emission vehicles is a hugely important investment in a clean transportation future.

The settlements announced today will only partially resolve the issues related to VW’s use of defeat devices to circumvent emissions tests. Nevertheless, with them the United States and the State of California have set an appropriate bar for effective enforcement of vehicle emissions regulations, one that we hope will instruct and inspire governments and policymakers worldwide.

Contacts: Drew Kodjak, John German, Anup Bandivadekar.