American Lung Association Reacts to Proposed Volkswagen Settlement
(June 30, 2016) -
The U.S. Department of Justice and the State of California, and the U.S. Federal Trade Commission (FTC) today announced an agreement with Volkswagen AG and related entities to settle allegations of cheating emissions tests and deceiving customers. Harold Wimmer, National President and CEO of the American Lung Association offers the following statement:
"Today's announced proposed settlement to mitigate the excess pollution from nearly 500,000 diesel vehicles sold or leased in the U.S. sends a strong signal to the American people that cheating will not be tolerated and that the Clean Air Act and other statutes will be enforced to protect public health.
"The American Lung Association appreciates that the proposed settlement will allow consumers to sell their vehicles back to Volkswagen and include steps to ensure at least 85 percent compliance with the buyback or repair program.
"In addition, Volkswagen will pay $2.7 billion on pollution mitigation programs to reduce pollution from other sources and $2 billion on zero emission vehicle technology investments. These are important steps forward to address the air pollution created by Volkswagen's actions to intentionally thwart emission control systems on diesel vehicles. Cleaning up diesel vehicles is a proven approach to reduce nitrogen oxide pollution and reduce impacts to communities living near ports, freeways and freight hubs. We are pleased that the agreement follows the successful Diesel Emission Reduction Act model.
"The American Lung Association remains concerned that recalled and repaired vehicles and put back on the road will still emit too much pollution, and fail to meet the applicable standards. Under the agreement, consumers will have the option to have their vehicles repaired, subject to future U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and California Air Resources Board approval. However, according to the settlement documents, the repaired vehicles will still exceed the original emissions certification level.
These excess emissions pose serious risks to health. The nitrogen oxides emitted from these vehicles trigger asthma attacks and may even cause asthma, with people who live or work near busy highways at greatest risk. These emissions also form ozone smog and particle pollution that can harm developing lungs, and cause asthma attacks, heart attacks, and even premature death.
"We believe that Volkswagen must not be able to buyback and resell vehicles that exceed the original emissions certification levels. During the comment period, we will express our concern that repaired vehicles will continue to emit excess pollution in communities across the nation. These emissions standards were put in place to protect public health, especially the health of children, older adults and those with lung disease and heart disease. They must not be undercut by this agreement.
"According to our most recent "State of the Air" report, more than half of all Americans live in communities where air pollution threatens their health. The American Lung Association remains committed to advocating for pollution cleanup across the nation to protect everyone from the harmful effects of air pollution."