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Compensation for Hawaii Consumers Under Settlements with Volkswagen Over Emissions Fraud

Volkswagen Required to Repurchase or Fix Falsely-Marketed Diesel Vehicles, Provide Restitution and Address Environmental Harms; Attorneys General Nationwide Obtain More Than $570 Million in Civil Penalties 

Attorney General Doug Chin and Office of Consumer Protection (“OCP”) Executive Director Stephen Levins today announced a settlement requiring Volkswagen to pay more than $570 million for violating state laws prohibiting unfair or deceptive trade practices by marketing, selling and leasing diesel vehicles equipped with illegal and undisclosed defeat device software.

Volkswagen Recall

This agreement is part of a series of state and federal settlements that will provide cash payments to affected consumers, require Volkswagen to buy back or modify certain Volkswagen and Audi 2.0-liter diesel vehicles, and prohibit Volkswagen from engaging in future unfair or deceptive acts and practices in connection with its dealings with consumers and regulators.

Attorney General Chin said “This settlement punishes Volkswagen for deceiving Hawaii consumers. It affects the owners of more than 900 vehicles owned or leased in Hawaii. In addition to consumer restitution, it provides up to $10 million in payments to Hawaii.”

Today’s coordinated settlements resolve consumer protection claims raised by a multistate coalition of State Attorneys General in 43 states and jurisdictions against Volkswagen AG, Audi AG, and Volkswagen Group of America, Inc., Porsche AG and Porsche Cars, North America, Inc. – collectively referred to as Volkswagen. They also resolve actions against Volkswagen brought by the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the Department of Justice (DOJ), the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), California and car owners in private class action suits.

OCP Executive Director Levins said “This settlement will provide excellent relief to the Hawaii consumers who were victimized by Volkswagen’s outrageous conduct.”

The attorneys generals’ investigation confirmed that Volkswagen sold more than 570,000 2.0- and 3.0-liter diesel vehicles in the United States equipped with “defeat device” software intended to circumvent applicable emissions standards for certain air pollutants, and actively concealed the existence of the defeat device from regulators and the public. Volkswagen made false statements to consumers in their marketing and advertising, misrepresenting the cars as environmentally friendly or “green” and that the cars were compliant with federal and state emissions standards, when, in fact, Volkswagen knew the vehicles emitted harmful oxides of nitrogen (NOx) at rates many times higher than the law permitted.

Under the settlements, Volkswagen is required to implement a restitution and recall program for more than 475,000 owners and lessees of 2.0-liter diesel vehicles, of the model year 2009 through 2015 listed in the chart below at a maximum cost of just over $10 billion. This includes up to 911 vehicles in Hawaii. 820 affected vehicles in Hawaii are 2.0 liter engine models. The remaining vehicles are 3.0 liter engine models. This settlement specifically pertains to the 820 2.0 liter engines in Hawaii. Lawyers continue to negotiate about what relief will be available later to owners of the 3.0 liter engines.

Once the consumer program is approved by the court, affected Volkswagen owners will receive restitution payment of at least $5,100 and a choice between:

  • A buy back of the vehicle (based on pre-scandal National Automobile Dealers Association (“NADA”) value); or
  • A modification to reduce NOx emissions provided that Volkswagen can develop a modification acceptable to regulators. Owners will still be eligible to choose a buyback in the event regulators do not approve a fix. Owners who choose the modification option would also receive an Extended Emission Warranty; and a Lemon Law-type remedy to protect against the possibility that the modification causes subsequent problems.

The consumer program also provides benefits and restitution for lessees (restitution and a no-penalty lease termination option) and sellers after September 18, 2015 when the emissions-cheating scandal was disclosed (50 percent of the restitution available to owners). Additional components of today’s settlements include:

  • Environmental Mitigation Fund: Volkswagen will pay $2.7 billion into a trust to support environmental programs throughout the country to reduce emissions of NOx. This fund, also subject to court approval, is intended to mitigate the total lifetime excess NOx emissions from the 2.0-liter diesel vehicles identified below. Under the terms of the mitigation trust, Hawaii is eligible to receive $7.5 million to fund mitigation projects.
  • Additional Payment to the States: In addition to consumer restitution, Volkswagen will pay to the states more than $1,000 per car for repeated violations of state consumer protection laws, amounting to $570 million nationwide. This amount includes $2.5 million paid for affected vehicles Volkswagen sold and leased in Hawaii.
  • Zero Emission Vehicles: Volkswagen has committed to investing $2 billion over the next 10 years for the development of non-polluting cars, or Zero Emission Vehicles (ZEV), and supporting infrastructure.

Volkswagen will also pay $20 million to the states for their costs in investigating this matter and to establish a fund that state attorneys general can utilize for future training and initiatives, including investigations concerning emissions violations, automobile compliance, and consumer protection.

The full details of the consumer program will be available online at VWCourtSettlement.com and www.ftc.gov/VWSettlement.

State Asks Websites and Bloggers to Remove Directions to Sacred Locations

Following on its action in February 2015, the operators of the popular tourism and travel website, Exploration Hawaii, have removed information regarding King Kamehameha III’s summer palace, Kaniakapupu, on Oahu.

Kaniakapupu-VandalismLast year the website was among the first to strip information about the long-closed Sacred Falls State Park from its site.  This was after the DLNR released a video that highlighted the continuing problem of people illegally entering the park and potentially putting themselves and rescue crews at risk.

Last week, after DLNR released a video depicting recent vandalism at Kaniakapupu, Coty Gonzales of Exploration Hawaii wrote DLNR to say, “I saw that video on vandalism at Kaniakapupu and like you, was disgusted.  I posted your video to our original post about Kaniakapupu and previously had stripped away any information regarding directions to the site.”  The video news release on the vandalism has been viewed nearly 10,000 times since its release last week.

Kaniakapupu is in a closed watershed and anyone caught trespassing in the area can be cited.  DLNR Chair Suzanne Case said, “We appreciate websites and social media joining us as partners to provide accurate and responsible information about all that Hawaii has to offer.  Part of that responsibility is to avoid sending visitors and locals alike, to places that are off-limits for safety and/or cultural reasons.  We applaud Exploration Hawaii for its proactive response and hope other sites that continue to send people to closed places will follow their lead.”

The DLNR has sent letters to more than a dozen websites and blogs that mention Kaniakapupu, asking that they also remove directions to the sacred location. Two blogs: “Outdoor Ohana-Happy Hiker and Traveling Thru History have indicated they will remove directions to Kaniakapupu from their sites.

Tourism Relations Between China and Hawaii Deepened

Tourism relations between China and Hawai‘i was deepened over the weekend with the signing of the Tourism Cooperative Agreement between the Jiangsu Tourism Administration and Hawai‘i Tourism Authority.

(L-R: Rep. Jon Burns, House Majority Leader, R-GA, Rep. Jan Jones, House Speaker Pro-Tempore, R-GA, Sen. Robert Hertzberg, D-CA, Sen. J. Kalani English, Hawai‘i Senate Majority Leader, Mme. Li Xiaolin, Pres., CPAFFC, Stephen Lakis, Pres.& CEO, SLLF, Rep. Scott Saiki, Hawai‘i House Majority Leader, Rep. Al Carson, House Speaker, R-ND) Photo courtesy: Senate Communications

(L-R: Rep. Jon Burns, House Majority Leader, R-GA, Rep. Jan Jones, House Speaker Pro-Tempore, R-GA, Sen. Robert Hertzberg, D-CA, Sen. J. Kalani English, Hawai‘i Senate Majority Leader, Mme. Li Xiaolin, Pres., CPAFFC, Stephen Lakis, Pres.& CEO, SLLF, Rep. Scott Saiki, Hawai‘i House Majority Leader, Rep. Al Carson, House Speaker, R-ND) Photo courtesy: Senate Communications

The significant cooperative agreement was reached at the first Sino-U.S. State and Provincial Leadership Summit being held June 25-26, 2016 in Honolulu. The agreement was the end result of thorough discussions on legislature, tourism, trade and economic partnerships between Hawai‘i and Jiangsu, a province which harbors a population of 79.7 million.

“With the declaration of 2016 being ‘U.S.-China Tourism Year’ by President Obama and China President Xi, it marks a significant tourism milestone for both countries and this memo of understanding further encourages collaboration for the future advancement of tourism,” said George D. Szigeti, president and CEO of the Hawai‘i Tourism Authority. “Jiangsu Province is one of China’s most prosperous regions accounting for one-tenth of its GDP. This partnership between Jiangsu Tourism Administration and HTA serves our mutual interest and we look forward to welcoming more Chinese citizens from the province and other parts of the country to Hawai‘i.”

The summit was part of the fourth annual Conference of State Majority Leaders with the State Legislative Leaders Foundation (SLLF). Majority leaders of state legislatures from across the country were in Hawai‘i for the meeting. State Senate Majority Leader J. Kalani English and State House Majority Leader Representative Scott Saiki were co-hosts of the conference.

“The impact of these meetings are substantial on so many levels,” said Sen. English on the success of the summit. “This was immensely important not only for building tourism in Hawai‘i, but also for furthering U.S. – China relations.  This agreement marks just the beginning of meaningful conversations and deepening state-level cooperation between the United States and China.”

Rep. Saiki echoed the significance of the meetings. “The Summit opened the doors to a renewed relationship between China, Hawai‘i, and other states to strengthen cultural, economic and political ties,” stated Rep. Saiki.

The Sino-US State and Provincial Leadership Summit is a direct result of an agreement reached between President Barack Obama and Chinese President Xi Jinping last September during President Xi’s visit to the U.S. The agreements endorsed by both Presidents included language specifically mentioning SLLF as a partner with the Chinese People’s Association for Friendship with Foreign Countries (CPAFFC) and is the sole organization that the Chinese will deal with at a state and local level.  Sen. English and Rep. Saiki traveled to China with 12 legislative leaders and a small contingent of SLLF Advisory Council members and staff in March of this year to initiate these friendship agreements.

For more information on SLLF, visit www.sllf.org

Help Me Test Survey Monkey – Do You Do Political Polls?

Well it’s funny season again… you know the time of the year when you start getting bombarded by political messages at every corner you turn.

I’m going to run some political polls on my site again this year, however, Survey Monkey has changed some things around from the last time I used it so I’m going to run this trial poll just to get the feel of the functionality of some of the changes Survey Monkey has made.

Polling SiteFeel free to take this simple two question survey just to get my blood flowing and to see how I can make the polls as valid as I can while realizing that it still will not be a scientific poll (USE SLIDER ON RIGHT TO ANSWER BOTH QUESTIONS):

Create your own user feedback survey

Lava Flows Over the Pali – Tour Company Begins Taking Reservations

This satellite image was captured on Monday, June 27, by the Advanced Land Imager instrument onboard NASA’s Earth Observing 1 satellite.

The image is provided courtesy of NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory. Although this is a false-color image, the color map has been chosen to mimic what the human eye would expect to see. Bright red pixels depict areas of very high temperatures and show active lava. White areas are clouds.

The image is provided courtesy of NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory. Although this is a false-color image, the color map has been chosen to mimic what the human eye would expect to see. Bright red pixels depict areas of very high temperatures and show active lava. White areas are clouds.

The image shows continued advancement of the flow towards the southeast. The flow front is progressing down the pali, along the western portion of the abandoned Royal Gardens subdivision and along the eastern boundary of Hawaiʻi Volcanoes National Park. Over the past few days, the flow has moved at a rate of about 300 meters per day (0.2 miles per day) – an increase over the rate last week and likely due to the steeper slope on the pali.

Back in business baby. Who wants to see Lava. Come check us out at Kalapana Cultural-Tours and we can get you there. Lava is pumping right now.  "Ikaika Marzo"

“Back in business baby. Who wants to see lava. Come check us out at Kalapana Cultural-Tours and we can get you there. Lava is pumping right now.” ~Ikaika Marzo

Kalapana Cultural-Tours is now accepting reservations to take visitors out to see the lava safely with an experienced guide.

Hawaii is 2016’s 6th Most Patriotic State

Hilton Fireworks

With the Fourth of July just days away, the personal-finance website WalletHub today released its list of 2016’s Most Patriotic States as a follow-up to its recent look at the Best & Worst Fourth of July Destinations.

Hawaii ranked 6th in patriotism.

To identify the country’s patriotic hotspots, WalletHub compared the 50 states across 12 key metrics such as military engagement, voting habits and civic education.

Patriotism in Hawaii (1=Most; 25=Avg.):

  • 10th – Percent of Residents Who Enlisted in the Military
  • 1st – Number of Active-Duty Military Personnel per Capita
  • 28th – Number of Peace Corps Volunteers per Capita
  • 9th – Number of Veterans per Capita
  • 22nd – Civics Education Requirement
  • 9th – Number of Americorps Volunteers per Capita

For the full report, please visit:
https://wallethub.com/edu/most-patriotic-states/13680/