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EPA Chief Scott Pruitt Steps Down

Scott Pruitt

US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) chief Scott Pruitt, who came under fire earlier for backing President Donald Trump’s decision to lower the standards for vehicle emissions requirements, resigned on Thursday because of an ethics scandal.

Pruitt is favored by the President for rolling back former President Barack Obama’s strict regulations on vehicle emissions. However, he is currently being investigated for travel and security expenses, as well as an expensive condominium arrangement.

President Trump said on Twitter that he has accepted Pruitt’s resignation and that EPA Deputy Administrator Andrew Wheeler will become acting chief of the agency starting on Monday.

Trump said that “Within the Agency[,] Scott has done an outstanding job, and I will always be thankful to him for this.”

Pruitt, a former Oklahoma attorney general, is facing dozens of investigations by the EPA inspector general, the Congress, and the White House. Reports pointed out to his questionable spending on first-class plane tickets, use of security detail, utilization of his office for favors, and connections with lobbyists and industry groups.

A separate report by The Washington Post even said that the former EPA chief pushed to find his wife a well-paying job with another politically-connected group.

The EPA’s inspector general is also being asked to look into reports that Pruitt falsified his official schedule “to hide or remove” records of his meetings and discussions with industry representatives. A CNN interview with US Representatives Don Beyer and Ted Lieu, citing remarks by Kevin Chmielewski, Pruitt’s former deputy chief of staff, said that Pruitt held routine meetings to “scrub, alter or remove from Pruitt’s official calendar numerous records because they might ‘look bad.'”

The representatives said that the allegations are being supported by an inspection of the former EPA chief’s official calendar.

Pruitt became famous for revising the Obama administration’s tighter standards on the model year 2022 to 2025 vehicles.

Volkswagen Fined 1 Billion Euros For “Dieselgate”

volkswagen dieselgate

Volkswagen has been fined 1 billion Euros ($1.18 billion) by public prosecutors in the German city of Braunschweig, the city close to the company’s Wolfsburg headquarters, over “Dieselgate” or the diesel emissions cheating that saw more than 10.7 million vehicles fitted with “defeat devices.”

The German company said it will pay the fine and would not lodge an appeal against it. The statement added that Volkswagen AG admits “its responsibility” for the diesel crisis “and considers this as a further major step towards the latter being overcome.”

Volkswagen said that the investigation found that “monitoring duties had been breached in the powertrain development department in the context of vehicle tests.” In human language, that means that the diesel cars sold worldwide between 2007 and 2015 have been fitted with the so-called “defeat devices.”

The purpose of these devices is to lower the emissions of cars during testing. However, the devices don’t work when the cars are used during normal driving conditions, meaning that the cars on the road could pump out up to 40 times the allowed amount of pollution.

The 1-billion-Euro penalty is composed of the 5 million Euros that is imposed along with the 995 million Euros for what was described as the “disgorgement of economic benefits,” which simply means the profit earned by Volkswagen for all the mess.

The payment will likely put to end the criminal prosecutions against the German company, but Volkswagen will continue to face the growing number of civil claims from motorists with affected cars, as well as the shareholders of the company. Volkswagen is not alone in what has been dubbed as the “Dieselgate.” Its subsidiaries will also be targeted, as well as luxury carmakers Mercedes-Benz, which already recalled more than 770,000 units, and BMW.

The diesel scandal first broke out in the US, where the company has already paid $25 billion in fines and compensation.

 

 

 

 

 

Toyota And Honda Caught Up in Kobe Steel Scandal

toyota and honda caught in kobe steel scandal

Kobe Steel, operating under the brand Kobelco, offers a wide range of products. Its main products include steel, titanium, aluminum and copper. It is a multi-billion company that caters even to giant automotive brands.

However, with the recent scandal plaguing it, automakers have launched their probe to identify their vehicles that have been affected. Toyota and Honda are now investigating on the matter to protect their customers and preserve their business interests.

The issue broke when Kobe Steel found out that their personnel have been giving false information in terms of the strength and durability ratings of their metal products. The incorrect data allowed the company to continuously meet the different quality standards required by their customers and by law. The problem is that it has been uncovered that most of their products were substandard.

Toyota is now worried about the aftermath of the shocking revelation as they have been using the aluminum produced by Kobe Steel in the doors and other body panels of their vehicles. The company believes that they have been doing that in the past decade.

On the other hand, Honda is also caught up in the nasty situation. The Japanese automaker admitted to using Kobelco metals in their doors and hoods.

It is believed that Mazda and Mitsubishi are in the mix as well. The problem may not be confined in Asia alone as the same company is the source of some materials for the vehicles of Nissan, Subaru, Ford and General Motors too.

While there are no reports of accidents or safety concerns centering on the subject yet, Toyota and Honda claimed that they are rapidly working to identify the models that have been affected. The issue might result to a massive recall similar to the Takata airbag scandal, and not to mention, numerous lawsuits from affected parties.

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