The EPA is cracking down hard on auto industry shenanigans

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The EPA is cracking down hard on auto industry shenanigans

The smogging scandal that has enveloped Volkswagen has also left the Environmental Protection Agency with something of a black eye. So even though the EPA failed to catch on to VW's games this time, the agency is damn sure not about to let it happen again. Like, ever. "The Volkswagen violations before us now make it clear, we need to adapt and step up our oversight," Janet McCabe, acting administrator in the EPA's Office of Air and Radiation, said during a press conference.

The EPA outlined its plan in a strongly worded letter to car manufacturers on Friday. Those plans include spot checking vehicles for the so-called "defeat devices" in addition to the normal rounds of smog testing. The agency did not specify how it would actually do that, given that these devices are really just lines of computer code scattered through the 10 million or so that modern vehicles require to operate.

What's more, the EPA won't be relying solely on vehicles provided by manufacturers for its baseline standards testing anymore. It will now borrow specific models from private citizens and rental companies as well. The agency also plans to redeploy some of its 23 mobile emissions testing platforms, the system that West Virginia University researchers used to discover the testing scam in the first place. Almost all of these platforms are currently being used to test big rigs and other heavy duty vehicles for NOx emissions -- even though these heavier vehicles actually account for 98 percent of nitric-oxide emissions.

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Of course Elon Musk, founder of electric car manufacturer Tesla, didn't miss the opportunity to throw shade on his fossil fuel-powered rivals. Take a look at his remarks in the video below, at the 1:12 mark.

[Image Credit: Getty]

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