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Volkswagen: A Premeditated, Intentional Act With Callous Disregard for People and the Planet

WASHINGTON - Below are statements from two Public Citizen experts about the unfolding Volkswagen emissions scandal.

From Robert Weissman, president of Public Citizen:

“The Volkswagen emissions scandal grows worse by the hour. Now we read that the deception went on for seven years and that Volkswagen executives lied to U.S. regulators a year ago about the discrepancy between pollution tests on the road and in the lab.

If all this is true – and Volkswagen has admitted to installing software designed to evade emissions rules – then these crimes are truly heinous. Not only did the company deliberately deceive consumers, but Volkswagen consciously poisoned the air with gases that cause respiratory illness and exacerbate climate change.

Assuming the allegations are true, this is a premeditated, intentional act designed to circumvent the law, with callous disregard for the fact that the vehicles were poisoning people and the planet in the process. Justice demands a sharp break from the kid-glove, coddling treatment that the U.S. Department of Justice has shown to corporate criminals over the past decade. Volkswagen must be made to plead guilty for its crimes with no deferred prosecution agreement, regardless of whatever cooperation it now provides. Individuals inside Volkswagen must be prosecuted and should be sent to jail.”

From Tyson Slocum, director of Public Citizen’s Energy Program:

“What we are learning about the extent of deceit at Volkswagen is several steps beyond the violations that we’ve seen from other auto companies. It shows – in stark terms – what regulators are up against. Companies are willing to go to extreme and illegal lengths to evade the law.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is constantly under attack from big business and manufacturers. But the Volkswagen emissions scandal shows that the agency provides a last bastion of defense between clean air and companies determined to pollute. Congress should give the agency all the funding it needs to combat these aggressive, calculated efforts by companies to evade public health laws.”


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Public Citizen is a national, nonprofit consumer advocacy organization founded in 1971 to represent consumer interests in Congress, the executive branch and the courts.

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