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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 switching 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
  • $9.5 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 will substantially reduce public exposure to harmful pollutants, 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 installed fraudulent emissions software on certain diesel vehicles equipped with 2.0 and 3.0 liter engines. The emission-cheating software violated both the federal and state Clean Air Acts. As a result, illegal levels of harmful nitrogen oxides were released into Washington's atmosphere.

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

Washington was part of a negotiation with nine other states, who came to a mutual agreement with Volkswagen. The group settled on combined penalty of $157 million. As a result, Washington was awarded $28.4 million for the more than 22,000 affected vehicles in the state.

The state laws violated were: