(Texas Tribune) -- Texas will receive more than $190 million for environmental mitigation under a multibillion-dollar settlement in the Volkswagen emissions cheating scandal approved by a federal judge in San Francisco on Tuesday. Volkswagen buyers will have the option of buybacks or repairs.
U.S. District Judge Charles Breyer authorized the $15 billion agreement, which was first detailed this summer. It awards hundreds of million of dollars to dozens of states and includes a $10 billion buyback program to compensate consumers who bought Volkswagen Group vehicles, including Audis. Under the settlement, the German automaker will establish a $2.7 billion trust fund for projects designed to mitigate environmental harm caused by excess emissions from its vehicles. It also has agreed to pay Texas $50 million in civil penalties and attorneys’ fees for violating a state consumer protection law that bans deceptive advertising.
Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton announced two separate lawsuits against Volkswagen Group of America, Inc. and subsidiary Audi of America last October, the month after the company admitted installing software in diesel vehicles that allowed them to circumvent emissions limits during inspections. Harris County and the city of Dallas also sued.
“When companies willfully violate the public’s trust, we will hold these entities responsible,” Paxton said a statement in June. “This settlement will both compensate the victims of Volkswagen’s fraud and punish the company enough to deter future fraud.”
Paxton's office declined further comment Tuesday.
Environment Texas called on the state to invest the money in state programs aimed at getting exhaust-spewing or diesel-powered vehicles off the roads, along with rebates to entice people to buy eco-friendly electric vehicles.
“Given Texas' continuing struggle to reduce harmful air pollution, the state needs to make a greater investment in clean air and the VW funds can help us get there,” the Austin-based group said in a statement. “However, it may be tempting for legislators to play shell games with the VW money and swap it out with dedicated clean air funds, resulting in no net gain for air quality. That would be a harmful mistake.”
The statement noted that the settlement covers about 475,000 2.0-liter diesel vehicles sold in the United States and does not cover buybacks at full purchase price. About 32,000 diesel cars capable of emissions cheating were sold in Texas.
Owners of Volkswagen Group vehicles can get information about their options here: www.vwcourtsettlement.com.
Disclosure: Environment Texas has been a financial supporter of The Texas Tribune. A complete list of Tribune donors and sponsors can be viewed here.
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