science environment

Washington Takes Legal Action Over Volkswagen's Diesel Pollution

By Jes Burns (OPB)
Nov. 17, 2015 12 a.m.

Washington is taking legal action against Volkswagen in the wake of a diesel vehicle scandal. Back in September, Volkswagen admitted to installing special software in some of its diesel vehicles, causing them to give false readings during pre-sale air quality tests. Forty-seven states, including Washington and Oregon announced investigations.


Now Washington has given the company formal notice that they violated the state's Clean Air Act.

“These violations are especially problematic and egregious because people are breathing harmful levels of air pollution,” said Department of Ecology Air Quality Manager Stu Clark.


Washington is still working to determine exactly how many of the vehicles are on the road. The size of any penalty against Volkswagen would depend in part on the number of vehicles and the effect on public health.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency estimates the cheating vehicles give off between 10 and 40 times allowable levels of nitrogen oxide, a key component of ozone pollution.

Volkswagen will have 30 days to respond to Washington’s notice of violation.

In an email statement, the Oregon Department of Justice said it’s one of the leads in multi-state investigation of the company.

“It would be premature to comment on any additional details of the investigation, or what the multi-state investigation is specifically looking into related to VW,” the message said.

As of late September, there were more than 11,000 of the diesel vehicles registered in Oregon.

Several model years of the diesel Jetta, Jetta Sportswagen, Beetle, Beetle Convertible, Golf, Golf Sportswagen and Passat, as well as the Audi A3 were found to be equipped with the cheat software. In early November, the EPA added the 2014 Volkswagen Touareg, the 2015 Porsche Cayenne and the 2016 Audi A6, A7, A8, A8L and Q5 to the list.