Haslam concerned about VW cheating on emissions

Revelations that Volkswagen, a leading employer in Tennessee, may have intentionally cheated on carbon emissions testing for hundreds of thousands of vehicles is concerning to Gov. Bill Haslam, reports The Tennessean.

“Obviously we’re concerned about that,” Haslam said when asked about the allegations Monday.

The Environmental Protection Agency accuses the German automaker of installing a device in 482,000 vehicles that makes it appear as though the vehicles meet emission standards when tested. The actual emissions levels change when the vehicle is not being tested, as reported by USA TODAY and other media outlets.

EPA head Gina McCarthy called Haslam late last week to give him a heads-up about the announcement, Haslam said. Someone from Volkswagen called him as well before the news broke last week.

“Volkswagen is somebody that is a major partner for us in the state of Tennessee, both in terms of investment and the jobs created. We’re obviously very interested in their continued growth, but they’re going to have to address this issue,” Haslam said.

The car company faces $18 billion in federal fines.

Lt. Gov. Ron Ramsey, the Senate speaker, told the Times Free Press that the revelations are “Depressing, hard to believe. On and on. We’ve made a huge investment.”

The state’s latest incentives, some $168 million to assist VW’s planned addition of SUV production in Chattanooga, were approved by the State Building Commission just earlier this month.