Society

Volkswagen Should Be Held Accountable For Smog Scandal

| by Mark Jones

Volkswagen has come under a considerable amount of fire for its attempt to get around diesel emissions testing. The consequences that the company is facing due to this scandal are completely justified and it is important that the Volkswagen be held to high standards in the future in order to ensure that something like this does not occur again.

Back in 2015, the International Council on Clean Transportation hired West Virginia University to conduct standard emissions tests on cars in the U.S., reports NPR. When researchers tested Volkswagen cars, they found that the emissions did not line up with Volkswagen's previous claims that their cars were environmentally friendly. The group released their findings to the Environmental Protection Agency and the California Air Resources Board. 

According to NBC News, it was found that Volkswagen had installed a "defeat device" in some of their models. Such devices were programmed to reduce the car's emissions to legal levels during testing. However, under normal use and conditions, pollution levels would rise drastically; up to 40 times as many emissions were found to have been released. 

Volkswagen's actions should be considered reprehensible simply because they lied about their product and tried to evade federal law. However, their actions become even worse when one considers the fact that air pollution caused by emissions is already a significant problem in the United States. 

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According to the EPA's website, the emissions testing that Volkswagen tried to evade exists in order to prevent air pollution. Air pollution is something that is harmful to all and can cause a myriad of health issues. 

The American Lung Association claims that approximately 30,000 people are killed by car emissions each year in the United States, according to LIVESTRONG.com. In addition, emissions can cause many respiratory and cardiovascular problems. 

It is also important to note that more than half of the country's population lives in areas that fail to meet the government's air quality standards for several days out of the year.

By trying to get around the standards imposed by the EPA, Volkswagen has knowingly and unashamedly contributed to these already-existing problems. If they had not been caught, it is likely that their production of cars would only have served to make the situation worse. Therefore, it is clear that Volkswagen should be subjected to severe consequences for their actions. 

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And they have indeed already received some severe -- and well-deserved -- punishments. On April 21, a federal judge in Detroit ordered Volkswagen to pay a $2.8 billion criminal penalty as part of a January settlement with the U.S. Department of Justice, reports NBC News. This will bring Volkswagen's total losses in light of this scandal to approximately $30 billion.

The company will also be put under a completely justified three-year probation. During this time, former U.S. Deputy Attorney General Larry D. Thompson will work as an Independent Compliance Monitor to make sure that Volkswagen stays within the legal limits allowed by the U.S. government. 

While these penalties may seem harsh, it is important to remember that they have been imposed to make sure that Volkswagen follows the law and does not get away with its past actions. It is incredibly important for the good of us all that during the time of Volkswagen's probation, Thompson works to ensure that the company does not try to exploit any more loopholes. 

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Sources: NPR, NBC News, EPA, LIVESTRONG.com / Photo credit: Bruno Kussler Marques/Flickr

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