Volkswagen Must Still Comply With Federal Fuel Efficiency Standards

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Volkswagen Must Still Comply With Federal Fuel Efficiency Standards

Fixing One Violation of Federal Law Isn’t an Excuse for Violating Another

Statement by John Olivieri, National Campaign Director for 21st Century Transportation at the United States Public Interest Research Group, on Volkswagen’s efforts to elude EPA standards governing the release of auto pollution, and the corporation’s future ability to comply with federal fuel efficiency requirements in the wake of its recall. 

“As the Volkswagen recall gets underway, VW will begin repairing vehicles that were previously installed with an illegal “defeat device” to bring them into compliance with EPA emissions standards. While this recall is absolutely necessary, the needed repairs will reduce the number of miles per gallon each vehicle gets, potentially jeopardizing the organization’s ability to comply with federal fuel efficiency standards.

 “Fixing one violation of federal law shouldn’t excuse Volkswagen from potentially violating another.

 “Federal fuel efficiency standards, or CAFE (Corporate Average Fuel Economy) standards, are an important instrument for helping Americans reduce their gasoline consumption and limit global warming-causing emissions.

 “VW cannot be allowed to fall out of compliance with the federally required CAFE standards, and should be held accountable for meeting the required minimum fleet-wide miles per gallon rating as it seeks to repair its fleet, including paying any resulting penalties should VW’s compliance drop in the wake of its recall.

 “Under the CAFE standards, the National Highway Safety Traffic and Safety Administration is authorized to levy penalties up to $5.50 per automobile per every 0.1 mpg shortfall, in addition to a “gas guzzler” tax on cars that do not meet the required fuel economy levels. This means that VW may be liable for tens of millions of dollars in additional penalties beyond the penalties it must pay for violating EPA emissions requirements.  

“NHSTA should act swiftly to implement these penalties if VW falls out of compliance with the CAFE standards, and should seek the maximum amount allowed by law to send a strong signal that criminal acts that undermine important federal fuel efficiency requirements, that increase gas consumption, and promote greater greenhouse gas emissions are unacceptable.”

Just this week, U.S. PIRG launched a new campaign to protect Volkswagen’s customers and hold guilty parties accountable beyond compliance and penalties associated with violating federal fuel efficiency requirements.

Key elements of U.S. PIRG’s Make VW Pay Campaign include:

1. Volkswagen must offer to buy back all “defeat device” diesel cars with full rebates to customers. VW cheated customers in selling them a product that was different than advertised in material ways.

2. The EPA must demand tough penalties: For VW’s violation, the law calls for penalties up to $37,500 per car — or $18 billion total.

3. Congress must put an end to the auto industry’s “get out of jail free” loophole: Auto industry lobbyists have won and defended a loophole in the law that makes it harder to prosecute their executives for intentionally violating the law and putting the public at risk. It’s time to close that loophole and any others that threaten consumer safety or wallets.

4. The Department of Justice must stop allowing tax write-offs for wrongdoing: We’ve fought against tax write-offs for JP Morgan, BP and other companies when they were forced to pay penalties for violations of our laws. We’ll keep fighting to end these write-offs for VW, GM and other companies.

To read our release on this new campaign, click here.