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Air Quality Program

VW - State enforcement action

Washington fines VW for installing fraudulent emission software

Ecology issued a $176 million Notice of Penalty to Volkswagen installing illegal software on some of its diesel vehicles. Volkswagen previously admitted to the EPA they were guilty of installing the software. As a result of the software, the affected vehicles are emitting up to 40 times the permitted levels of nitrogen oxides. Volkswagen received two notices of violation from Ecology before receiving the penalty. Violation notices were issued Nov. 10, 2015, and March 10, 2016.

Volkswagen installed the software on certain diesel vehicles equipped with 2.0 and 3.0 liter engines. The software cheats emissions tests by only turning on the vehicles’ emission control systems when the car is being tested. As a result, these vehicles emit up to 40 times the permitted levels of nitrogen oxides when driven normally. Over 21,000 diesel vehicles with the fraudulent software are registered in Washington. The penalty from the Department of Ecology was based on a per-vehicle violation. Once the funds are collected, they will be held in the air pollution control account to implement the state’s clean air statutes. During October 2016, Volkswagen appealed the notice of penalty to the Pollution Control Hearing Board (PCHB); proceedings with the PCHB are pending.

The state laws violated were:

  • Low Emission Vehicles – Chapter 173-423 WAC
  • Motor Vehicle Emission Control Systems – Chapter 173-421 WAC (Washington Administrative Code)
  • Motor Vehicle Emission Standards – Chapter 70.120A RCW (Revised Code of Washington)
  • Washington Clean Air Act – Chapter 70.94 RCW

View the video below about the $176 million Ecology penalty.

For more information visit:

Department of Ecology Notice of Penalty
VW light duty diesel vehicle violations for years 2009-2016
Washington takes enforcement action against VW: Nov. 16, 2015 News Release
Washington fines VW $176 million for violating clean air laws: July 28, 2016 News Release


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