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EPA Administrator McCarthy, Remarks at the VW Press Conference, Washington DC, As Prepared


Thank you Deputy Attorney General Yates for your leadership and Assistant Attorney General John Cruden and the tremendous partnership between DOJ and EPA on this and so many joint efforts to protect public health and the environment.

I also want to thank FTC Chairwoman Ramirez, as well as recognize the great work of Mary Nichols, chair of the California Air Resources Board, and other states and tribal leaders who have been engaged in these discussions.  They have been crucial players in the delivery of the settlement we are announcing today.

And it goes without saying how proud I am of the world-class team at EPA – Cynthia Giles, Janet Mccabe, Phil Brooks, Chris Grundler, Byron Bunker, Lee Cook, and Evan Belser, among many others, who spent countless hours bringing the varied interests together to get the job done and done extraordinarily well.  

I say this on a daily basis but it’s worth repeating - every action EPA takes is about protecting public health and the environment. That’s our mission and it includes limiting the pollution vehicles emit into the air we breathe.

We know that EPA’s vehicle emissions standards work. They take millions of tons of pollution out of our air we breathe.  And they protect people all across the US and beyond from health effects like aggravated asthma, respiratory problems, and even premature death. 

A critical part of EPA’s job is to secure and defend these clean air protections using the powers that congress gave us to get the job done.

By using our Clean Air Act authorities, EPA Has achieved what has to be called a groundbreaking settlement, a settlement to repair the damage VW caused when they sent half a million cars onto our roads emitting amounts of harmful pollution far in excess of reasonably achievable, cost-effective federal standards. 

Today, using the power of the Clean Air Act, we are getting VW’s polluting vehicles off the road, and reducing harmful pollution in our air – pollution that should never have been emitted in the first place.

The scope of our agreement is unprecedented.  It not only addresses the damage done, it provides funding for states and tribes to make their air even cleaner, and it secures major investments that will support the transformation towards cleaner vehicles that is taking place across the auto industry.

I want this agreement to remind every American that EPA is on the job and has your back.

  • When companies break the rules designed to protect your health…
  • When cheaters stack the deck against businesses that follow the law…
  • When violators try to pull the wool over your eyes …

…EPA stands up for you and we reclaim the protections that are rightfully yours under the law.

Today we’re addressing VW’s violations on all 2-liter diesel engines beginning with model year 2009. That includes nearly half a million cars emitting nitrogen oxide – or NOx – pollution up to 40 times the legal limit.

We’re holding VW accountable for this illegal pollution, and for distorting the market for cleaner cars.

There are 3 key elements in today’s agreement.

  • First, VW will get its polluting cars off the road. Using the Clean Air Act, EPA Has secured every consumer the choice of having VW buy back their car or lease, or modifying their car at no cost – if and when a modification to reduce emissions is approved. To resource this major logistical endeavor, VW will spend up to $10 billion to get at least 85 percent of these polluting cars off the road, and to ensure that consumers are adequately compensated and motivated to take advantage of their choices. You’ll hear more about this from FTC Chairwoman Ramirez.
  • Second, VW will make up for the pollution it caused. They will put $2.7 billion into a trust fund for pollution-reduction (or mitigation) projects across all 50 states and in tribal communities. This is the largest monetary obligation for pollution reduction in Clean Air Act enforcement history.  And it’s real money. States and tribes will be able to apply for funding to implement clean air projects that make sense for them. And they’ll be able to cut NOx pollution in ways that current budgets could never have realized.
  • Third, VW will invest in America’s clean transportation future. VW will invest $2 billion in innovation and infrastructure for zero-emission vehicles in the United States. This includes the construction of charging stations, public education projects, and improving access to zero-emission vehicles. It’s $2 billion devoted entirely to supporting the advancement of a thriving auto industry that’s cleaner, greener, and full of consumer choice.

It’s an historic settlement but there’s still more to come. Today’s settlement does not address VW’s violations for 3-liter vehicles, and we have not yet addressed the criminal charges or civil penalties that are being pursued separately.

But EPA’s number one priority is done – we have found a path forward to reduce the pollution in our air that threatens our public health.  And using the power of the Clean Air Act, we are capturing investments in infrastructure and innovation that will drive public health improvements over the long term.

These investments will help catalyze the deployment of cleaner vehicles of all kinds – today and in the future.

So this agreement is a powerful example of what a strong EPA can do, and is doing, for the American people.

And it should send a very clear message that when you break the laws designed to protect public health in this country, there are serious consequences.

EPA will continue to do what is necessary to stand up for public health, our common environment, and the air we all breathe.

Thank you. Now I’ll turn it over to FTC Chairwoman Ramirez.