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EPA chief to deal with emissions cheaters “very aggressively”

July 18, 2017 0 Comments

U.S. Environmental Protection Agency chief Scott Pruitt is here to play hardball, stating that the agency must make sure what happened with Volkswagen AG – the diesel emissions scandal – never happens again.

After Volkswagen AG admitted to using illegal software to evade emissions regulations back in September 2015, the EPA began looking into other automaker’s emissions issues – like Fiat-Chrysler Automobiles and Daimler AG.

In March, Volkswagen pleaded guilty to three felonies and “faces three years of probation and oversight by a court appointed monitor” for that period. The German automaker further agreed to spend over $25 billion in buybacks, fines, and environmental efforts.

The U.S. Justice Department sued FCA in May, accusing the automaker of “illegally using software to bypass emission controls in 104,000 diesel vehicles sold since 2014.”

Pruitt, in an interview with Reuters on Monday, said that “[w]hat VW did was very, very troublesome and we need to make sure it doesn’t happen again,” and that the EPA needs to take an “an aggressive stance to deter cheating by automakers.”

“Look at what VW, and Fiat — you have this Fiat case that is on the horizon as well. The emails and the communications that I’m aware of — it was strategic and intentional and should be dealt with very aggressively,” said Pruitt.

When asked if he believed the Obama administration was too harsh on VW, Pruitt responded: “I wouldn’t call what was done too light at all.”

In May, Reuters reported that the Justice Department and EPA got ahold of “internal Fiat emails and other documents written in Italian that look at engine development and emissions issues” that raise doubts as to its intentions.

The suit the Justice Department filed against FCA named “FCA unit VM Motori SpA” – the designer of the engine in question.

Sergio Marchionne, FCA CEO, said in June that the automaker has been working with the EPA for months and are “confident of the fact that there was no intention on our part to set up a defeat device that was even remotely similar to what [Volkswagen] had in their cars.”

In the interview with Reuters, Pruitt said that the EPA is “not currently reviewing California’s waiver” under the Clean Air Act to set its own vehicle emissions rules.

“We’ve reached out to the California governor as part of our CAFE midterm review in 2018,” Pruitt said. “I’m hopeful that the state of California, the governor there, will respond with reciprocity and we are working through that process.”

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