A federal judge last week approved a $14.7 billion settlement to partially resolve the legal fallout over Volkswagen’s installation of “defeat devices” designed to cheat air quality rules in more than 500,000 vehicles sold in the U.S.
The complicated settlement resolves a number of legitimate claims, providing relief for car owners, the state of California and the Federal Trade Commission. But it also includes a dubious provision that Volkswagen invest $1.2 billion in a plan to be approved by the Environmental Protection Agency to promote “zero-emissions vehicle technology,” a euphemism for electric vehicle charging stations. This is an affront to both common sense and the Constitution.
According to the Justice Department, the $1.2 billion investment remedies Clean Air Act violations for “deceptive marketing.” But this is absurd. The Clean Air Act has nothing to do with the policing of false advertising, of which Volkswagen was guilty. That’s the job of the FTC, which is party to the settlement.