In a letter to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) yesterday, Klobuchar questioned the agency’s diesel emissions testing process and called on the EPA to immediately address consumer, environmental, and public health concerns
Klobuchar also took to the Senate Floor to urge the EPA to explain why it took a group of researchers at West Virginia University, and not the EPA’s testing processes, to detect this deceptive software and called on the agency to establish robust safeguards to prevent automakers from gaming the system again
WASHINGTON, DC – Following a call from U.S. Senator Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has indicated that it will be announcing changes to its diesel emissions testing process in the wake of the recent Volkswagen revelations. Yesterday, Klobuchar sent a letter to the EPA that questioned the agency’s diesel emissions testing process and called on the agency to immediately address consumer, environmental, and public health concerns resulting from Volkswagen’s development and installation of “defeat devices” on nearly 500,000 Model Year 2009-2015 Volkswagen and Audi diesel passenger vehicles. Klobuchar also urged EPA to work with the Department of Justice to take any civil or criminal actions possible to make it clear that these deceptions will not be tolerated. In addition, Klobuchar took to the Senate floor yesterday to urge the EPA to explain why its emission standards approval process did not detect this deceptive software and call on the agency to establish robust safeguards to prevent automakers from gaming the system again.
“As a member of both the Senate Commerce Committee and the Senate Judiciary Committee, consumers are at the heart of my work in the Senate,” Klobuchar said. “The actions by Volkswagen to deliberately deceive people around the world about emissions levels in their cars is fundamentally about a breach in trust—consumers thought they were getting the same product that was being advertised. New diesel emission testing processes will be a step in the right direction, but it is critical we get to the bottom of this to figure out how this happened and to ensure that it never happens again.”
Recent reports revealed that Volkswagen willfully deceived regulators and the general public to artificially lower emissions of its 2009-2015 Volkswagen and Audi diesel vehicles. Volkswagen installed a “defeat device” on nearly 500,000 of these vehicles that hid levels of nitrogen oxides as high as 40 times that of allowable U.S. emissions standards. Approximately 482,000 diesel vehicles sold in the United States and 11 million cars worldwide have been affected.
For broadcast-quality video of Klobuchar’s remarks, click here.
The full text of the senator’s letter to the EPA is available below:
Dear Administrator McCarthy:
I write to you with deep concern about recent revelations that Volkswagen willfully deceived regulators and the general public through the development and installation of a “defeat device” on nearly 500,000 Model Year 2009-2015 Volkswagen and Audi diesel passenger vehicles. These devices hid levels of nitrogen oxides as high as 40 times that of allowable U.S. emissions standards.
The impacts of this deception will continue to emerge as more is uncovered about Volkswagen’s actions. It will be increasingly important that the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) coordinate with the Department of Justice, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and other federal agencies to minimize any threat to public health, restore consumer confidence, and rebuild the American people’s trust in federal agencies charged with implementing and enforcing public health and safety laws are effectively doing their job.
Recent news reports indicate that these emissions discrepancies were first uncovered by a group of researchers at West Virginia University and not through the EPA’s testing processes.
- Did the EPA test the vehicle models now identified as having the defeat devices installed?
- Does the EPA’s testing processes include road testing of vehicles in normal driving conditions?
- When a light-duty vehicle manufacturer submits a certificate of conformity to meet emission standards requirements, how does the EPA verify the data that the manufacturer submits are accurate?
- What changes are being pursued by the EPA to enhance testing systems to ensure they are able to identify deceptive software in the future?
Volkswagen’s actions raise significant consumer and environmental concerns. Volkswagen knowingly misled consumers who believed they were buying a vehicle that provided premium fuel economy and performance and also met strict emissions standards. These consumers deserve recourse for financial losses, both for necessary repairs and for the diminished resale value of these vehicles. I urge the EPA and the Department of Justice to coordinate efforts on any civil or criminal actions necessary or appropriate to make it clear that these violations and deceptions will not be tolerated. The FTC is responsible for promoting consumer protection and enforcing laws prohibiting deceptive practices and thus should also play a role in this investigation.
- To what extent is the EPA coordinating with the U.S. Department of Transportation, FTC, and other appropriate agencies?
- Is the EPA committed to strongly enforcing both its criminal and civil authorities under the Clean Air Act?
- What tools are available to consumers to recover costs from financial losses stemming from Volkswagen’s actions?
The EPA has within its authority under section 207 of the Clean Air Act to require a manufacturer to issue a recall if the agency determines a substantial number of vehicles do not comply with regulations.
- Under what circumstances will the EPA compel a recall of these vehicles?
- How will the EPA ensure that a recall is broad enough in scope and covers all affected models?
- How will the EPA inform vehicle owners that their vehicle is included in a recall and that they have the information necessary about when and where to go get their vehicle fixed?
- Will the EPA compel Volkswagen to make every effort to reach current vehicle owners who may not be the original owner of the vehicle?
I have worked to advance plans to cut greenhouse gas emissions from passenger vehicles and have fought for strengthening consumer protection. I urge the EPA to work closely with other agencies to address the environmental, health and consumer protection concerns caused by Volkswagen’s actions. I look forward to the EPA’s response to these concerns and questions.