My View: VW deceit shows need for cap and trade
As someone who has fought for smart environmental policy inside and outside of Salem, I take issue with the Pamplin Media Group's recent editorial, "Go slow on cap, trade legislation."
Putting aside that this legislation was thoroughly vetted in the 2017 legislative session and has come back stronger for it, the reason for urgency is the fact that corporate polluters, often with the blessing of enablers in the federal government, are ignoring or overturning environmental protections. The system is being gamed at our expense, and we need a better one.
We are living in a time of rampant deregulation of environmental protections. These past weeks we have seen President Trump praising "clean coal" during his state of the union address, and we have learned about the extraordinary levels of deception Volkswagen used to sell the idea of "clean diesel."
Volkswagen's corporate behavior stands out as some of the most egregious among many examples, and drives home the point that corporate polluters will continue to pollute unless they are given an incentive not to.
It is worth shining a light on VW since their behavior paints a stark picture as to the lengths corporations will go to try and circumvent environmental regulations. For the better part of a decade, VW intentionally deceived regulators and the American public.
They used sophisticated software in their cars to beat emissions tests and hide the fact that the cars dumped up to 40 times the legal limit of nitrogen oxide into the air we breathe. As residents of a city with particulate pollution problems, we should all be offended.
After knowingly cheating the tests, they had the gall to market these pollution machines to American consumers as environmentally friendly "clean diesel" cars. All told, they sold nearly 600,000 cars in our country, and armed over 11 million cars with these "defeat devices" worldwide.
Why is this appalling behavior relevant today? Because evidence shows that Volkswagen has not changed its ways. The company is at the center of several other scandals around the world.
One of VW's subsidiaries, Skoda, tried to extort kickbacks from its Egyptian distributor. And VW is the subject of a European Union investigation into whether it colluded with other German automakers to concoct better schemes to evade emissions tests.
A new documentary series focused on corporate corruption streaming on Netflix is called "Dirty Money." Fittingly, the first episode is all about Volkswagen.
It contains explosive new allegations that VW North America's CEO lied under oath when he testified before Congress about what he knew, and that while VW was supposed to be removing the "defeat devices" responsible for cheating on the emissions tests, they were actually trying to make the software harder to detect.
It is time for a better mousetrap.
Our state Legislature needs to fight back against corporate polluters. We can't count on Congress to do it. The Clean Energy Jobs legislation would put a limit and price on climate pollution from the largest polluters in the state. It will secure greenhouse gas reductions, invest in clean energy and modern transit, and create clean energy jobs in Oregon.
Importantly, it will create an incentive for polluters to cut emissions. The VW news shows that the bottom line is a powerful driver. Let's use corporate profit motive to create clean energy jobs for our state.