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CARB approves plan to mitigate harm from Volkswagen defeat devices

28 May 2018

The California Air Resources Board (CARB) approved a plan to mitigate statewide harm from more than 10,000 tons of smog-causing NOx emissions released due to Volkswagen’s (VW) 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 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 approved plan invests about 50% of the available funds in those communities.

The plan provides:

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 cycle beating 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 actually being driven on the road. Investigation by CARB, US 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. VW eventually confessed to violating US and California air quality regulations.

Source: CARB