The attorneys general of several US states are suing Volkswagen for violating state environmental regulations with its diesel emissions cheating scandal, even as federal regulators and many of those same states have agreed to a $14.7 billion settlement for violating consumer protection and EPA and California state environmental regulations.
Coordinated lawsuits were filed today by New York, Massachusetts, and Maryland, alleging violation of various state environmental and anti-fraud statutes. All three states say Volkswagen has violated their air quality laws, combined with some sort of anti-fraud measure for the defeat mechanisms to bypass emissions testing.
The lawsuits will be announced later today at a press conference with several of the attorneys general present.
"Plotted a massive cover-up"
"Volkswagen, Audi and Porsche defrauded thousands of Massachusetts consumers, polluted our air, and damaged our environment and then, to make matters worse, plotted a massive cover-up to mislead environmental regulators," said Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey in a statement.
This was echoed by New York Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman, who released his own statement saying "the allegations against Volkswagen, Audi and Porsche reveal a culture of deeply-rooted corporate arrogance, combined with a conscious disregard for the rule of law and the protection of public health and the environment."
In a statement issued to The Verge, Volkswagen responds to the lawsuits:
The allegations in complaints filed by certain states today are essentially not new and we have been addressing them in our discussions with U.S. federal and state authorities. Volkswagen continues to work cooperatively with the U.S. Department of Justice, the Environmental Protection Agency and the California Air Resources Board on a comprehensive national resolution of all remaining environmental issues arising from the diesel matter.
To date, Volkswagen has agreed to buy back or modify affected 2.0L TDI vehicles, establish a $2.7 billion environmental remediation trust for the benefit of all 50 states, and invest $2 billion for infrastructure to increase the use of zero emission vehicles across the United States.
It is regrettable that some states have decided to sue for environmental claims now, notwithstanding their prior support of this ongoing federal-state collaborative process.
Though Volkswagen has agreed to a multi-billion dollar settlement with US and state regulators already, its Dieselgate-related legal battles in the US — and around the world — are far from over.