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Volkswagen state enforcement action

We are managing a $28.4 million settlement from Volkswagen for violating the state's Clean Air Act. For years, the automaker installed software on many of its diesel engine cars designed to turn on a vehicle’s full suite of emissions controls only when it detected that the car was being tested, and turned them off during normal driving. This fraudulent software allowed up to 40 times the legal limit of harmful nitrogen oxides to be released into the atmosphere.

Investing in Washington communities

During the 2018 legislative session, the Legislature approved using the settlement to reduce harmful diesel pollution in Washington communities. The majority of the funds will be managed through our grant programs and will benefit children, commuters, and people that live near transportation corridors. Funds will also go toward transforming state agency vehicles from fossil fuels to electric and for cleaner trucks at the Seattle and Tacoma public ports.

Funds will be spent in the following categories: 

  • $12 million to replace old school buses
  • $9.7 million to electrify transit buses
  • $5.5 million to electrify state fleets
  • $1.2 million to help public ports buy cleaner trucks

Opportunity for change

This is an unprecedented opportunity for transformative improvements across Washington’s transportation sector. Investing in cleaner engines and zero emission technologies substantially reduces public exposure to harmful pollutants and help address climate change, while saving millions of dollars in government fuel and maintenance costs.

Background on the state's penalty and settlement

Volkswagen admitted to the EPA they manufactured some diesel vehicles with fraudulent emissions software on certain diesel vehicles equipped with 2.0 and 3.0 liter engines. The emission cheating software violated the federal and state Clean Air Acts. As a result,  illegal levels of harmful and unhealthy nitrogen oxides were releases into Washington's atmosphere.

We issued Volkswagen two violation notices, the first on Nov. 10, 2015, and the other on March 10, 2016. The automaker then received a $176 million penalty in July 2016 for violating the state's Clean Air Act.

Washington was part of a multi-state negotiation with nine other states who came to a mutual agreement with Volkswagen. The group settled on $157 million. As a result, Washington was awarded $28 million for the more than 22,000 affected vehicles in the state.

The state laws violated were:

Subscribe to our state listserv

We are dedicated to keeping you informed as the plan for the funds is developed. Sign up for our State VW Enforcement Action listserv to receive important updates and information.