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Attorney General Mills announces settlement in latest action against Volkswagen for emissions scandal
March 30, 2017
AUGUSTA – Attorney General Janet T. Mills announced today that Volkswagen AG, Audi AG and Porsche AG, as well as their American subsidiaries, have agreed to pay over $157 million to ten states to settle environmental lawsuits filed last year challenging the companies’ secret use of unlawful “defeat device” software in their vehicles – software that caused tens of thousands of tons of excess harmful pollutants to be emitted into the air in Maine and other states.
The settlement marks the first time Maine and the other settling states – all of which have adopted California’s stringent vehicle emission standards – have secured an environmental settlement from an automobile manufacturer for violations of their own state auto emissions laws. Maine will continue to enforce the tough auto emission standards established by California and incorporated into Maine law.
“We will not tolerate the flouting of our state’s environmental laws, the legacy of Senators Ed Muskie and George Mitchell. We will enforce Maine’s environmental standards stringently,” said Attorney General Mills. “Our air, water and natural resources and the health of our people are critically important. The actions by VW to deliberately violate Maine’s motor vehicle emission standards affected all of us and it was important to bring this action on behalf of the people of Maine.”
Today’s settlement with VW, which includes $5.1 million for Maine, represents the largest settlement for Clean Air Act violations that Maine has ever obtained. Amounting to over $1,285 per defeat-device-equipped Porsche, Audi, and Volkswagen diesel vehicle sold or leased in the state – and in addition to the amounts the companies have already agreed to pay – this will serve to deter other companies considering breaking Maine’s environmental laws. The settlement monies will fund environmentally beneficial projects and programs across the state.
Also as part of today’s settlement, Volkswagen has agreed to substantially increase its commitment to the emerging electric car market. The agreement requires Volkswagen to – by 2020 – at least triple the number of electric car models its Volkswagen, Porsche, and Audi brands offer from one model to three, including two electric SUVs. This commitment will further increase consumer choice and spur pollution-reducing electric car sales.
This multistate settlement agreement was filed today in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California and will be further memorialized in consent judgments to be filed in state courts. The other states joining today’s settlement include Connecticut, Delaware, Massachusetts, New York, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, and Washington.
The lawsuit followed an extensive investigation by a multistate coalition of over 40 states and other jurisdictions. As alleged in Maine’s complaint, Volkswagen, Audi, and Porsche sold more than 570,000 2.0- and 3.0-liter diesel vehicles in the United States equipped with “defeat device” software intended to circumvent applicable emissions standards for certain air pollutants. Once installed, the software activates required emissions controls during a car inspection, but deactivates those controls during regular driving, effectively falsifying the inspection results and allowing nitrogen oxide (NOx) emissions up to 35 times the legal limit. The automakers installed defeat devices in several generations of U.S.-market Volkswagen and Audi diesel engines that equipped over a dozen models, including flagship Audi luxury sedans and high-performance Porsche SUVs, with sales eventually totaling over 3,500 vehicles in Maine, before these vehicles were pulled from the market in 2015.
NOx pollution presents grave risks to human health. It contributes to the formation of harmful ground-level ozone (smog) and soot. Exposure to smog and soot is linked to a number of respiratory- and cardiovascular-related health effects, including premature death. Children, older adults, people who are active outdoors (including outdoor workers), and people with heart or lung disease are particularly at risk for health effects related to smog or soot exposure. Nitrogen dioxide formed by NOx emissions can aggravate respiratory diseases, particularly asthma, and may also contribute to the development of asthma in children.
View settlement agreement: https://ag.ny.gov/sites/default/files/vwsettlementagreement-executioncopywith_signatures.pdf
Automaker agrees to pay $157 million to ten states for violating state emissions standards by selling over 570,000 cars and SUVs that polluted excessively