Last week, the California Air Resources Board heard from the public on Volkswagen’s $800 million spending plan for Zero Emissions Vehicle infrastructure, access, and education in California.
But in order to know if this spending is a good deal for California, it’s important to know how we got here.
We cannot forget that Volkswagen executed a deliberate scheme to pollute our air and mislead drivers by installing “defeat device” software on their diesel vehicles. Volkswagen pleaded guilty to fraud, obstruction of justice, and other crimes. As a result, Volkswagen agreed to pay billions of dollars in fines, penalties, and other spending.
While it’s a good thing that taxpayers won’t have to foot this $800 million bill, I question whether it makes sense to allow Volkswagen to dictate how this money is spent. Volkswagen committed one of the most egregious acts of corporate wrongdoing in history. They don’t deserve the benefit of the doubt.
California companies have raised hundreds of millions of dollars to build the electric vehicle charging market as it stands today.
Now, we’re giving VW a dominant position in the marketplace, no questions asked?
Why would we do this?
It makes no sense.
If this spending isn’t properly implemented, the California-based businesses, that create California jobs, will pay the price.
What happens when Volkswagen’s insistence on owning and operating their own stations and networks prevent California innovators from being able to compete?
Why are we punishing California-based businesses while rewarding global bad actors?
We should not grant an unfair advantage in California to a company that doesn’t play by the rules. We should not reward a company that deliberately misled its customers and regulators. And we certainly should not stand back and let them reap the benefits of their misdeeds.
Volkswagen must live up to its obligations. Volkswagen shouldn’t get a pass just because of its size, or because of the size of the program it is proposing. California caught Volkswagen red-handed, but now we’re handing them unfettered access to our state.
CARB should make sure that Volkswagen isn’t granted an unfair advantage over businesses that follow the rules. We should be investing in California innovation, not in VW’s bottom line.