The federal government is taking its first measures toward punishing Volkswagen for its environmental violations pursuant to the company’s diesel emissions scandal. Volkswagen is faced with a civil suit from U.S. authorities that alleges Volkswagen violated the Clean Air Act with its intentional and deceitful impairment of emissions control systems on 2.0-liter and 3.0-liter diesel engines in 600,000 vehicles.
Fines could number in the billions of dollars.
“Car manufacturers that fail to properly certify their cars and that defeat emission control systems breach the public trust, endanger public health, and disadvantage competitors,” said John C. Cruden, the Justice Department’s Environment and Natural Resources Division assistant attorney general, in a statement. “The United States will pursue all appropriate remedies against Volkswagen to redress the violations of our nation’s clean air laws alleged in the complaint.”
“With today’s filing, we take an important step to protect public health by seeking to hold Volkswagen accountable for any unlawful air pollution, setting us on a path to resolution,” said Assistant Administrator Cynthia Giles from the EPA’s Office of Enforcement and Compliance Assurance. “So far, recall discussions with the company have not produced an acceptable way forward. These discussions will continue in parallel with the federal court action.”
Recalls and fixes for the affected diesel engines could take up to two years to fix.
In the meantime, there are also class-action lawsuits pending. Customers are firing back at Volkswagen in response to misinformation and subsequent losses in resale value of their cars. Reuters also reports that the Justice Department could still pursue criminal charges in addition to this civil suit.