Connecticut to receive a multistage settlement with Volkswagen

CT will receive $14,846,465 through a multistate settlement with auto-maker Volkswagen that resolves state claims that the company violated environmental law. (Zhelun Lang/The Daily Campus)

The state of Connecticut is set to receive $14,846,465 through a multi-state settlement with auto-maker Volkswagen. The settlement resolves state claims that the company violated environmental laws when it equipped certain diesel vehicles with illegal and undisclosed emissions defeat devices designed to circumvent emissions standards, Attorney General George Jepsen said on March 30.

Per the settlement, $157,480,480 will be given to the 10 states that have adopted California’s emission standards under section 177 of the federal Clean Air Act, known as “Section 177 States.” The states claimed that Volkswagen’s conduct violated state and federal laws regulating nitrogen oxide emission limits, diagnostic system requirements and emission control requirements and laws prohibiting the installation of equipment that conceals an air pollutant and causes air pollution.

“Volkswagen lied to consumers and to regulators by stating that its vehicles were not only fuel efficient but also clean, when in reality they were neither,” said Jepsen. “This settlement resolves claims that Volkswagen violated Connecticut’s environmental protection laws that govern air pollution and conduct related to emission controls when it sold vehicles that it knew were equipped with devices designed to circumvent emission tests,” Jepsen said.

Nearly all of Connecticut’s share of the settlement funds will go to the state’s General Fund, according to a press release sent out on March 30. A yet to be determined portion may be set aside for an environmentally beneficial purpose consistent with the settlement.

“[These] actions and historic $14.8 million penalty sends a very clear message to all vehicle manufacturers,” said state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection Commissioner Rob Klee. “You must meet our state environmental standards and if you deliberately deceive regulators and cheat the public, you will be caught and you will be held accountable,” Klee said.

The attorney general’s investigation confirmed that Volkswagen sold more than 570,000 2.0 and 3.0-liter diesel vehicles in the United States, including 11,911 vehicles in Connecticut-that were equipped with defeat device software intended to circumvent applicable emissions standards for certain air pollutants. Volkswagen actively concealed the existence of the defeat devices from regulators and the public.

“Volkswagen made false statements to consumers in their marketing and advertising, misrepresenting the cars as environmentally friendly or ‘green’ when, in fact, the company knew that the vehicles emitted harmful nitrogen oxides (NOx) at rates significantly higher than permitted by law,” the press release said.

This is the second settlement that Connecticut has been party to with Volkswagen over its emissions fraud, according to Jaclyn Falkowski, the Director of Communications at the Office of the Attorney General.

“The first settlement, announced in June 2016, resolved the state’s claims that Volkswagen violated Connecticut’s consumer protection laws. The second settlement, announced last week, resolved the state’s claims that Volkswagen violated Connecticut’s environmental laws,” Falkowski said.


Gabriella Debenedictis is a staff writer for The Daily Campus. She can be reached via email at gabriella.debenedictis@uconn.edu.