Originally published on Gas2.
For people who aren’t supposed to say anything because they are under a court imposed gag order, those involved in the negotiations between Volkswagen and the plaintiffs in a federal law suit had a lot to say today. According to Bloomberg, Volkswagen has agreed to pay up to $10 billion to resolve all issues pending before the court. The proposed agreement will be presented to US District Court judge Charles Breyer in San Francisco on June 28.
The details of the agreement may change slightly between now and then, but the broad outlines include payments of between $1,000 and $7,000 to people who own Volkswagens that do not conform to federal and state emissions standards. How much each owner will be eligible for remains murky. The amount will be based on the age of the vehicle and other unspecified variables.
Volkswagen also will contribute to an environmental remediation fund in an attempt to ameliorate the damage done by the 482,000 non-conforming diesel cars it sold in the US since 2009. VW isn’t expected to be able to repair all of the cars affected to the satisfaction of the EPA, which may result in buybacks or extra payments to the environmental fund.
The complexity of the deal may further annoy Volkswagen owners, who have been waiting since last September when the diesel cheating scandal first broke. Many of them now have cars in their driveways that have little or no value in the used car market and can’t be driven because they won’t pass a state emissions inspection.
Regulators are thinking about modeling the emissions remediation program on a popular diesel emissions clean-up program known as The Diesel Emissions Reduction Act grant program. It is funded by the EPA but partially administered by states with severe diesel pollution. The so-called DERA program funds projects like retrofitting older diesel buses or replacing fleets of diesel-powered drayage trucks at ports.
The amount of money VW will pay into the fund will depend on a technical assessment by the regulators of how much excess smog-forming gases the non-compliant diesel cars emitted going going back to 2009. They will also estimate how much pollution to expect going forward from consumers who don’t sell their cars back or don’t follow up on the recall repairs.
The Sierra Club issued a statement earlier today, expressing displeasure with the proposed settlement. Kathryn Phillips, director of the California Sierra said, “The regulators and the courts must hold Volkswagen fully accountable for its polluting practices. If accurate, these early reports suggests the settlement is getting closer to holding Volkswagen accountable, but not close enough.
“Volkswagen’s deceit is as dangerous as the smog left behind by its vehicles’ tailpipes — some of which may still be left on the road. If that’s true, it’s doubly important that penalties in the settlement are high enough to make a difference. The money needs to be spent in a way that communities hit hardest by Volkswagen’s pollution — those located along highways and other busy traffic corridors — feel the benefit.”
Lawyers like to say that the best settlement is the one that makes nobody happy. By that standard, this agreement must be very good indeed.
Source: Bloomberg Image source: Facebook
Reprinted with permission.