Hogan Administration pursues penalties, repairs from Volkswagen
Baltimore, MD (November 30, 2015) – The Hogan Administration announced today its intention to seek penalties and correctives actions from automaker Volkswagen for installing devices that allowed thousands of vehicles to pollute Maryland’s air at up to 40 times the federal emissions standard.
Maryland intends to join with other states in asserting environmental enforcement claims against Volkswagen and pursuing joint settlement negotiations to require the carmaker to take corrective actions and pay financial penalties. Volkswagen has admitted to installing software known as “defeat devices” to circumvent emissions standards. Such action violates Maryland law.
“Maryland is working hard to cut smog from power plants in Maryland and from upwind states – and from the cars and trucks that travel our roads,” said Maryland Secretary of the Environment Ben Grumbles. “We will work to make sure that Volkswagen cleans up its act.”
In September, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) issued a Notice of Violation of the Clean Air Act to Volkswagen AG, Audi AG and Volkswagen Group of America, Inc. That Notice alleges that four-cylinder Volkswagen and Audi diesel cars from model years 2009-2015 include software that circumvents emissions standards for pollutants. Those defeat devices allow cars to meet emissions standards in a laboratory or a testing station, but during normal operation those vehicles emit nitrogen oxides at up to 40 times federal standards. Nitrogen oxides, or NOx, contribute to the formation of ground-level ozone, or smog.
Unhealthy levels of ozone can irritate the respiratory system — causing coughing, throat irritation and chest pains and aggravating asthma and other chronic lung diseases. Ozone and other air pollutants have also been linked to premature death.
NOx air emissions are also a significant source of nutrient pollution to the Chesapeake Bay and its tributaries.
In November, EPA issued a second notice alleging defeat devices were installed in certain Volkswagen, Audi and Porsche light duty diesel vehicles for model years 2014 through 2016.
The Department of the Environment estimates that about 10,000 Maryland vehicles were affected by Volkswagen’s actions. The Department estimates that the affected vehicles emitted more than 700 tons of additional NOx since 2009 – the equivalent of an additional 300,000 vehicles on Maryland roads each day.
All vehicles sold in the United States must comply with EPA or California Air Resources Board (CARB) emissions standards. Maryland, through its Clean Cars Program, adopted the CARB standards.
Maryland is one of 12 states outside California to adopt the CARB standards. Maryland will work with California and these other states to ensure that Volkswagen repairs the vehicles and provides appropriate compensation.
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