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  • Environmental Officials Knew About Emission Cheating Two Years Ago

    European regulators knew that automakers were cheating on emissions testing in 2013, according to newly obtained internal documents, raising questions about why governments did not take action against car companies sooner.

    Documents sent between top environmental officials two years ago reviewed by the Financial Times reveal that former European Union environmental commissioner Janez Potocnik alerted industrial policy commissioner Antonio Tajani that automakers were gaming emission tests, however nothing came of it.

    “There are widespread concerns that performance has been tailored tightly to compliance with the test cycle in disregard of the dramatic increase in emissions outside that narrow scope,” said Potocnik in the letter, according to Industry Week.

    Potocnik brought his concern to regulators, noting that many countries were worried that the “significant discrepancy” of emission release between on-road vehicles and those undergoing testing may account for the lack of progress in improving European air quality. According to The Independent, Potocnik suggested that environmental officials warn automakers to take “remedial action” or face having some of their diesel models banned.

    This latest revelation has many wondering why European governments did not act on emissions cheating in 2013, long before the Volkswagen scandal ever broke. Industry Week reports that regulatory loopholes that fueled the cheating were left in place, allowing automakers to get away with such actions for another two years.

    “My services and I are often put in an uncomfortable position when defending the perceived lack of action by the commission and member states in addressing the obvious failure to ensure this,” said Potocnik.

    Since the scandal broke in September, Volkswagen’s value has fallen almost 50 percent and faces fines and recall costs that could exceed $30 billion, reports Industry Week.  The scandal has ignited investigations across Europe and the U.S. and has tainted diesel’s reputation as a leader in clean energy.

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