BACKFIRED: When VW Lied to America

BACKFIRED: When VW Lied to America

Dale Bell interviewing CA Air Resources Board’s Mary Nichols 2015



In 2008, Volkswagen executives proclaimed they would “dominate the auto industry by 2018, economically and environmentally.” Now, an alarming series of allegations have made the case that over the past 6 years, VW’s management has deliberately circumvented and avoided California and U.S. vehicle emission standards on a scale never before imagined.

Media Policy Center (MPC) has begun production on a major project, kicking off with a primetime television special, that tells the inside story of the investigation that led to the bombshell discovery of evidence pointing to VW’s deception and the policy consequences for climate change, the health of the planet and our civilization.

The Inside Story from CARB

MPC has secured an MOU with the California Air Resources Board (CARB) to tell the “exclusive” inside story, as a primetime television special supported by additional media and outreach components, about the role of CARB in revealing and verifying Volkswagen’s recent deceitful practices. The story will begin in El Monte, at the CARB emissions laboratory founded almost 50 years ago. There, every morning, seasoned technicians, practicing science-based technical tasks, show up at work not to deliberately catch a company doing wrong, but to follow strict scientific procedure and certify manufacturers’ products for sale in California. Their work preserves and protects the health of our planet through science, technology, data assimilation, law and perseverance.

Our Approach

The television/digital components will investigate the investigation that began at West Virginia University 4 years ago before it engaged CARB. We will tell the “inside” story as it unravels. Some elements are under wraps legally but we will address practice and policy. We will be systemic, looking at the process from top down. What happened next? Where does the money lead? What role do regulators play? These and other questions will reveal the narrative. Finally we will ask, What is the role of our citizenry and our civilization as well as our obligations to our children? Can further corporate deceit be prevented?

Where the Story Leads

We followed Board Chair Mary Nichols, Governors Brown and Schwarzenegger, and others to the 2015 UN Climate Change Conference in early December in Paris. Mary Nichols, California’s chief emission and climate regulator, is also the leader in the U.S. and arguably, the world. One key topic at the 12-day summit focused on what Volkswagen tried to achieve, and whether other automakers have tried to follow it.

The Team

MPC’s group consists of co-founders and executive producers Dale Bell and Harry Wiland, executive producer Wally Baker, and Beverly Baroff, MPC senior producer, writer and editor. MPC will create a consortium of funders comprised of foundations, individuals, corporations, and agencies, not dominated by any one voice. We will also enlist global “partners” to ensure this story reaches a worldwide audience. The CARB Project at MPC will have a budget of approximately $1.7 million over 18 months. Fundraising for the initial phase has begun urgently.


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