Volkswagen Emission Scandal Prompts International Action by Environmental Agencies
In the wake of an emissions scandal brought on by action against German auto manufacturer Volkswagen earlier this month, federal environmental officials have joined forced with their European and South American counterparts to step up emissions testing on diesel cars. In a letter to auto makers, the United States Environmental Protection Agency notified manufacturers that it plans to road-test vehicles in an effort to crack down on falsified emissions reports. Currently, the agency relies on design specifications and statements provided by auto manufacturers with regards to emissions compliance, along with limited laboratory testing of vehicles. The EPA does not currently road-test these vehicles for adherence to emissions standards.
Approximately two weeks ago, the EPA posted a notice of violation against Volkswagen, claiming that the auto maker knew that it used "defeat device" software in its diesel engines on vehicle models 2009 and newer. This software essentially knew when a vehicle was being tested for clean air emissions and would automatically switch to a full emissions control mode. Once the test was over, the vehicle’s computer would switch engine function from full emissions to a more limited setting, which improved fuel efficiency but allowed up to 40 times the amount of nitrous oxide allowed by law to be released into the atmosphere. Volkswagen has received sharp criticism for intentionally circumventing Clean Air regulations from both environmental and consumer protection groups.
European environmental agencies have also upped the ante overseas. Just this month, the European Union passed the Euro 6, a slew of new emissions rules designed to protect consumers from environmental pollution. Under these new rules, vehicles will be given real-world road tests beginning in the year 2016. Several international auto manufacturers have pledged to uphold the law and work with officials to demonstrate compliance with environmental protection rules, including Nissan and Daimler AG, the maker of Mercedes-Benz.
Back in the United States, the EPA has come under fire for their reliance on statements provided by auto manufacturers that attest to the environmental compliance of diesel engines. EPA officials were quick to point out that diesel engine in passenger automobiles account for less than one percent of cars on US roads. Instead, they focus on heavy duty trucks with diesel engines, from which most of the pollution associated with diesel engines emanate. The EPA uses 23 portable test devices to test trucks under normal conditions to ensure emissions compliance.
Though the agency admits that their resources seem woefully inadequate, officials remind the public that some testing is better than none.
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James O. Cunningham
Since 1977, personal injury lawyer James Cunningham has provided effective legal advocacy to people who are injured through the negligent actions of another person or entity throughout the Central Florida area. He fights to obtain recoveries for his clients’ physical and emotional pain and suffering and pursues his clients’ personal injury cases with a commitment to excellence and impeccable preparation.