Image: Volkswagen

Volkswagen and the Environmental Protection Agency were under a judge’s deadline to reach an agreement on how to fix the company’s egregious fouling of emissions-regulations for their diesel cars by March 24th. That deadline is now April 21, after which the issue may have to go to trial.

More than half a year has passed since Volkswagen was caught running “defeat devices” in their diesel-powered cars. These essentially tricked regulators and vehicle inspection stations into thinking the cars’ emissions level was acceptable tolerances when in fact they weren’t. Not by a long shot.

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U.S. District Judge Charles Breyer presided over a hearing at which he asserted the solution to the current situation; almost 600,000 Volkswagen cars on American roads spewing emissions up to 40 times the legal limit, could involve a vehicle buyback plan or a modification to the existing cars that would satisfy regulators in making the cars road-legal. It could also involve some combination of those things.

In the court transcript Breyer seemed confident that an agreement could be reached by April 21, but threatens a trial if the processes is delayed further.

“if no concrete proposal is made by April 21st, then on that date, the Court will set a schedule for determining whether the claims for declaratory, injunctive, and equitable relief can be resolved this summer. In other words, as suggested by plaintiffs, the Court would seriously consider whether to hold a bench trial this summer on such relief so that the polluting cars can be addressed forthwith.”

As for whatever negotiations have taken place between the EPA and Volkswagen already, public information is scarce. “It is critical to the success of the process that these settlement discussions remain confidential at this point,” Breyer said.

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Dieselgate’s never going to end, is it?