The California Air Resources Board (CARB) has approved a plan to mitigate statewide harm from more than 10,000 tons of smog-causing pollutants released in California alone because of Volkswagen’s deliberate use of illegal “defeat devices” in diesel passenger cars. The National VW Environmental Trust provides California with $423 million for this purpose.
“This is a landmark moment in the saga of Volkswagen’s environmental violations,” said CARB Chair Mary D. Nichols. “Over the next 10 years this plan will put in place not only tools to clean up VW’s excess emissions, but also to help achieve further reductions of smog-forming pollution for decades to come.”
The mitigation plan approved by CARB will invest primarily in zero emission replacements for heavy-duty trucks, buses and equipment. There is also money to reduce emissions at freight facilities, marine projects and light-duty vehicle charging.
California Senate Bill 92 passed last year, also requires that a minimum 35% of the mitigation investment benefit disadvantaged communities. As designed, the plan approved today invests about 50% of the available funds in those communities.
- $130 million for zero emission shuttle buses, school buses and transit projects
- $90 million for zero emission heavy duty freight and drayage trucks
- $70 million for zero emission port equipment and marine projects
- $60 million for combustion port equipment and marine projects
- $10 million for light duty vehicle infrastructure
- $63 million in reserve
The plan will be submitted to the fund trustee before the first actual withdrawal from the trust fund.
The Case Against VW
Beginning in model year 2008 VW sold about 600,000 2.0-liter and 3.0-liter diesel passenger vehicles with illegal software in the United States. 87,000 of those cars were sold in California. The illegal software, or defeat device, was specifically designed to operate emission control equipment when a vehicle is tested. The control equipment would then be shut off when the cars were being driven on the road.
Investigation by CARB, U.S. EPA and the University of West Virginia determined the altered vehicles emitted as much as 40 times more NOx than the legal standard when operating on the road. CARB engineers uncovered the defeat device and VW eventually confessed to violating U.S. and California air quality regulations.
Excess NOx emissions are a major public health concern in California, because they are a key ingredient in formation of ozone (smog). More than 10 million Californians live in areas in extreme non-compliance areas for ozone. Those areas include the southern San Joaquin Valley and the Los Angeles Basin. Ozone is a contributor to asthma attacks, cardio-pulmonary disease and premature death.