Harris County, home to Houston, is suing the auto giant for more than $100 million in what officials are calling the “first” local government suit against VW following its emissions scandal. More than a decade ago, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency helped develop a technology that ultimately allowed an independent laboratory to catch Volkswagen‘s elaborate cheating on vehicle emissions tests.
Around 482,000 Volkswagen and Audi diesel cars were allegedly equipped with the illegal emissions control software in the USA since 2008, according to EPA.
But once the cars were on the road and running normally the diesel engines would actually spew out nitrogen oxide at levels about 40 times the legal limit.
The Center for Biological Diversity is a national, nonprofit conservation organization with more than 900,000 members and online activists dedicated to the protection of endangered species and wild places. “The Volkswagen debacle ought to be a wake-up call for the agency to make that happen”. “We have been suffering from an outdated product cycle, overpriced product and a deteriorating relationship between the dealer body and Volkswagen for a number of years“.
“The diesel industry is building on these clean air accomplishments and now increasingly focused on producing near zero emissions technology that also is more efficient and has lower greenhouse gas emissions as well”.
“If EPA had used the technology back then (on diesel cars), we could have caught it”, said Margo Oge, who was director of the EPA’s office of Transportation and Air Quality at the time and headed the office for 18 years until 2012.
The EPA is already planning to conduct tests to ensure every USA car, pickup and SUV with a diesel engine won’t include technology similar to the kind Volkswagen created to cheat pollution laws, said spokesman Nick Conger. He declined to say if those tests would include on-the-road elements, though he said they would incorporate methods the California Air Resources Board (CARB) used to detect Volkswagen’s defeat device.
The German transport ministry has said the company manipulated tests in Europe too and regulators across Europe and in parts of Asia and central America are investigating, though none have so far estimated likely penalties. Regulators look at the results and ask questions if they look suspicious.
In addition to certification, the EPA runs spot checks on cars representing 15-20 percent of models in a year to verify the data from manufacturers. Automakers test new models in the lab according to procedures designed by the EPA.