Make an example out of Volkswagen
By Dan Becker and James Gerstenzang
of the Safe Climate Campaign
Volkswagen’s cheating on diesel emissions tests isn’t the first pollution scandal to rock the auto industry. Here’s how the Obama administration can make it the last.
VW should be ordered to fix the diesels, or buy them back and scrap them, begin large-scale production of electric vehicles and face civil and criminal penalties, including a fine large enough that no automaker will even think about cheating on air pollution standards again.
VW and government regulators suing the company are negotiating at a propitious moment, as federal agencies and the California Air Resources Board evaluate another crucial program protecting the environment — the joint U.S.-California 54.5 mpg mileage and emissions standard. It is possibly the biggest single step any nation has taken to fight global warming, and the automakers are fighting to weaken it.
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The auto industry spends roughly $15 billion on marketing annually, according to Kantar Media. Ads for gas-guzzlers are ubiquitous on the web, in print and on television. And sales of SUVs, minivans and other light trucks are surging — up nearly 10 percent in the first two months of 2016 comp ared with 2015, according to Automotive News.
From NOAA: History of atmospheric carbon dioxide from 800,000 years ago until January, 2014.