Energy

Inhofe: VW Should Pay For Scandal By Producing Natural Gas-Powered Vehicles

(REUTERS/Fabian Bimmer)

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Chris White Tech Reporter

Oklahoma Republican Sen. [crscore]Jim Inhofe[/crscore] wrote a letter Thursday to the head of the Environmental Protection Agency requesting the regulators ask Volkswagen to pay for its emissions cheating devices by manufacturing natural gas powered vehicles.

“EPA would gain more value from including natural gas vehicles — including heavy duty trucks — in the agreement to complement the [electric vehicle] path,” Inhofe wrote in a letter addressed to EPA administrator Gina McCarthy. “This could significantly improve air quality in a less expensive, more manageable way.”

The senator was referring to talks between the EPA and VW aimed at hashing out an agreement that would allow the German auto maker to begin producing electric vehicles in the U.S. in order to atone for its emissions cheating transgressions.

According to a February report from German newspaper Welt am Sonntag, the EPA was requesting VW to produce EVs at a car plant in Chattanooga, Tennessee. The agency also asked the company to build a treasure trove of charging stations throughout the U.S.

Inhofe and the McCarthy are not on the same wave-length, as the senator believes demanding the company build natural gas fueled vehicles would be a better form of atonement than mandating EV production.

“While EPA has favored EVs in the past and inevitably will continue to do so, EVs are not the only answer to mitigating the Volkswagen emissions issues,” Inhofe wrote. “It is my understanding that new heavy-duty natural gas powered trucks can be equipped that lower nitrogen oxide by 90 percent.”

Inhofe’s letter also tossed some side-eye at the president for what the senator says is a “failed goal of having 1 million EVs and plug-in hybrids on the road by 2015.” Producing and selling EVs is all well and good, Inhofe noted, but the number of EVs barreling down U.S. highways and byways is only around 400,000.

Inhofe has raked-in nearly $2 million ($1.8 million) in political contributions from oil and gas producers, according to data compiled by OpenSecrets.org.

In December 2014, Inhofe, joined by Sen. Carl Levin, a Michigan Democrat, to pass a provision in the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) incentivizing the production of natural gas powered vehicles.

“Enactment of this bipartisan provision moves natural gas one step closer towards becoming a mainstream fuel for our everyday cars,” Inhofe said in a press statement at the time.

He added: “Oklahomans have been trailblazers in the use of natural gas vehicles and now the rest of the nation can experience the benefits of this affordable and efficient fuel source.”

VW has until March 24 to come into an agreement with the EPA about how to make amends for affixing more than 600,000 diesel powered vehicles with so-called emissions cheating devices.

Read the letter below.

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