WASHINGTON -- Two senior U.S. Republicans lawmakers pressed the Environmental Protection Agency for answers about aspects of Volkswagen Group's deal with the Department of Justice and the agency to settle aspects of the automaker's diesel emissions violations, saying the settlement could give VW an advantage as it readies a major electric-vehicle push.
Part of the settlement, approved last week by U.S. District Court Judge Charles Breyer, requires VW to invest $2 billion in zero-emission vehicles over the next decade.
In a letter to EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy, U.S. Representatives Fred Upton and Tim Murphy said the structure of the required spending may enable VW to "obtain substantial competitive benefits, if not a monopoly" on the burgeoning electric-vehicle charging market. VW’s allocation of the $2 billion also appears to be subject to "limited" federal oversight, the GOP lawmakers said.
With VW Group readying plans to launch 30 electric vehicles globally by 2025, the duo called the $2 billion zero-emission vehicle fund a “curious outcome for the settlement of a cheating scandal.”
Under the settlement, VW must also set aside $2.7 billion to fund environmental remediation projects to make up for the excess nitrogen oxide emissions spewed by its roughly 475,000 2.0-liter diesel vehicles with rigged emissions software. In a second letter to McCarthy, Upton and Murphy also asked the agency to describe how it determined that $2.7 billion was the appropriate amount to fund those projects.
An EPA spokesperson said the agency would review the letters and respond.