The US Justice Department is suing Volkswagen over an emissions-cheating scandal that has affected hundred of thousands of vehicles in the US and millions worldwide.
“The United States will pursue all appropriate remedies against Volkswagen to redress the violations of our nation’s clean air laws,” said Assistant Attorney General John Cruden, head of the departments environment and natural resources division, Reuters reported.
The lawsuit will be filed in the Eastern District of Michigan and then transferred to Northern California, where class-action lawsuits against Volkswagen are pending.
It does not preclude the Justice Department from pursuing criminal charges against Volkswagen, a senior Justice Department official told Reuters.
“Today’s filing of a civil complaint under Sections 204 and 205 of the Clean Air Act seeks injunctive relief and the assessment of civil penalties,” the DOJ said.
The affected cars, ranging across the numerous brands of the VW Group, use diesel engines.
These engines were rigged with cheat software to evade test that would determine if they were emitting excessive amount of nitrogen oxide. In a statement, the DOJ explained the environmental issues connected to NOx:
NOx pollution contributes to harmful ground-level ozone and fine particulate matter. These pollutants are linked with asthma and other serious respiratory illnesses. Exposure to ozone and particulate matter is also associated with premature death due to respiratory-related or cardiovascular-related effects. Children, the elderly and people with pre-existing respiratory disease are particularly at risk of health effects from exposure to these pollutants. Recent studies indicate that the direct health effects of NOx are worse than previously understood, including respiratory problems, damage to lung tissue and premature death.
According to the Environmental Protection Agency, the lawsuit was filed by the DOJ on behalf of EPA “against Volkswagen AG, Audi AG, Volkswagen Group of America, Inc., Volkswagen Group of America Chattanooga Operations, LLC, Porsche AG, and Porsche Cars North America, Inc. for alleged violations of the Clean Air Act.”
When the news broke last year that the EPA was issuing a notice of violation to VW, the action was confined to the automaker’s small-displacement 2.0-liter TDI diesel engines.
Later, the action was broadened to include some 3.0-liter engines.