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State Wants Volkswagen To Pay For Emissions Deception

David Zalubowski
AP File
Vermont Attorney General Bill Sorrell announced a lawsuit against Volkswagen over the company's use of "defeat devices" to deceive environmental regulators about its vehicles' emissions.

The State of Vermont is suing Volkswagen and its affiliates for misleading consumers and violating environmental laws by selling diesel vehicles whose emissions exceeded state standards.

The suit, filed in Washington Superior Court, comes at a time when a settlement is expected in a federal consumer protection case. The settlement is expected to provide buy-backs and financial compensation for U.S. owners of the offending vehicles.

According to the state, about 3,400 Volkswagen, Audi and Porsche diesel vehicles from model years 2008-2015 were registered in Vermont as of one year ago.

Volkswagen has admitted its vehicles were equipped with illegal technology designed to conceal their actual emissions.

“This is not a close call,” says Attorney General Bill Sorrell. “This is outrageous, fraudulent behavior.”

The suit does not specify how much money the state is seeking for violations of Vermont’s consumer and environmental laws.

Sorrell says Vermonters who owned one of the vehicles can choose to participate in the national buyout settlement or wait to see if the state is successful.

In addition to seeking compensation for vehicle owners, the federal suit asks that states be financially compensated by Volkswagen for consumer protection violations. Under the proposed federal settlement, Vermont would receive about $3 million.

But Sorrell says in filing its own suit, the state will forgo that money and pursue a larger settlement on its own.

“All due respect to those state and federal officials that negotiated the proposed national settlement we just find it to be, in the consumer protection arena, inadequate,” he says.

An additional suit filed by the Environmental Protection Agency seeks to penalize Volkswagen for emissions violations on behalf of both the federal government and the states.

State officials say emissions from the vehicles were up to 40 times the legal limit.

On a per capita basis, Sorrell says Vermonters purchased more vehicles equipped with the illegal ‘defeat devices’ than residents of any state but Oregon.

Steve has been with VPR since 1994, first serving as host of VPR’s public affairs program and then as a reporter, based in Central Vermont. Many VPR listeners recognize Steve for his special reports from Iran, providing a glimpse of this country that is usually hidden from the rest of the world. Prior to working with VPR, Steve served as program director for WNCS for 17 years, and also worked as news director for WCVR in Randolph. A graduate of Northern Arizona University, Steve also worked for stations in Phoenix and Tucson before moving to Vermont in 1972. Steve has been honored multiple times with national and regional Edward R. Murrow Awards for his VPR reporting, including a 2011 win for best documentary for his report, Afghanistan's Other War.
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