Environmentalists seek a price tag for Volkswagen scandal

The Volkswagen diesel emissions scandal has been measured in many different ways — falling VW stock prices, $500 gift cards to owners and the growing number of models under suspicion.

Environmentalists this week have tried to put a cost on the potential damage to public health and the California environment. The California Clean Energy Fund, with a digital map developed by Kevala, suggest the faulty diesel fleet will pollute poor communities more.

The interactive map tracks the diesel Volkswagen registrations in California — with a high number in Silicon Valley and San Francisco for the models sold as eco-friendly. It also overlays the registration with commuting and environmental quality data.

The German automaker has admitted several of its 4-cylinder diesel engines were equipped with software designed to beat emissions tests. Nearly 500,000 vehicles nationwide spew much more pollution than initial tests indicate.

The German automaker is expected to submit a proposal by Friday to the California Air Resources Board to fix diesel vehicles registered in the state.

Danny Kennedy, managing director of the California Clean Energy Fund, said in a statement the pollution affects poor communities hardest. Neighborhoods along busy commuter routes get hit with great amounts of diesel emissions. Health problems could include increased rates of asthma and other respiratory maladies.

The investigation has expanded to include recent 3 liter diesel engines in Audi A6 models, as well as Volkswagen and Porsche SUVs from 2014-16. The state estimates 1,600 vehicles could be affected in California.

The scandal cost Volkswagen CEO Martin Winterkorn his job. Company officials have testified before Congress and are working with regulators to address the problem.

The EPA has set up a FAQ for diesel VW owners.


Photo: Volkswagen sedan, courtesy of Volkswagen.


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