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Watchdog: EPA can do more to find emissions cheating after Volkswagen scandal

Watchdog: EPA can do more to find emissions cheating after Volkswagen scandal
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The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has improved its car emissions testing following the Volkswagen diesel emissions scandal, but it could still take more steps, the agency’s internal watchdog said Tuesday.

The EPA did not actually discover the software that let diesel-fueled Volkswagen cars emit far more pollutants on the road than during regulatory tests, which sparked a international scandal that ended up costing the company billions.

The discovery came from outside groups like West Virginia University and the International Council on Clean Transportation. The EPA, meanwhile, was using legacy testing systems that were fooled by Volkswagen’s software.

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But new testing regimes implemented since the scandal broke in 2015 mean that the EPA is much more likely to find similar cheating on its own, the agency’s Office of Inspector General (OIG) said in its Tuesday report.

“By screening for defeat devices using variations of the standard test cycles, new test cycles, and Portable Emissions Monitoring Systems that measure on-road emissions, special testing can detect whether any design features are altering the operation of emission control systems,” the report concluded.

“The EPA has effectively used special testing to detect noncompliance by other manufacturers.”

The OIG made a series of recommendations for the EPA to further improve its oversight of car emissions testing, including conducting a comprehensive risk assessment for light-duty diesel emissions cheating, better tracking agency performance and planning how to incorporate the new testing regimes across aspects of the vehicle certification program.

“These improvements will help the EPA better address strategic risks and achieve compliance with mobile source regulations,” auditors concluded.