NASHVILLE —The Volkswagen scandal over auto-emissions testing is now barreling into hearings in both the Tennessee Senate and the U.S. House.
A spokesman for Tennessee Lt. Gov. Ron Ramsey, the Republican speaker, said Ramsey agrees with today's call by Sen. Bo Watson, R-Hixson, for a hearing on the scandal's impact on the company and the state's estimated $500 million incentives for the VW's Chattanooga plant since 2008.
Meanwhile, U.S. House Energy and Commerce Chairman Fred Upton, R-Mich., and Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee Tim Murphy, R-Pa., announced the subcommittee will schedule a hearing on the revelations that VW cheated on emissions-testing standards on pollution for several diesel-engine models.
Calling the reports "troubling," Watson said in a letter to Senate Finance Committee Chairman Randy McNally, R-Oak Ridge, that he wants a meeting "without delay" to hear testimony from company and state officials.
Watson said that "while all of the relevant facts" regarding the company's use of software designed to evade emissions-testing equipment "may remain unreported at this time, I am very concerned as to the financial impact these violations could present to the State of Tennessee."
"As the chairman is aware, Tennesseans have made a significant investment in Volkswagen and any action that threatens the stability and sustainability of the investment should be reviewed by the Finance Committee, without delay," Watson added.
Ramsey spokesman Adam Kleinheider said "the lieutenant governor agrees there needs to be a full and thorough hearing."
In their joint statement, Upton and Murphy said that "strong emissions standards are in place for the benefit of public health. Manufacturers throughout the United States, and across the world, have developed leading technologies to reduce airborne emissions within the limits set by EPA and state environmental agencies.
"However," they noted, "reported EPA allegations that certain Volkswagen models contained software to defeat auto emissions tests raise serious questions. We will follow the facts. We are also concerned that auto consumers may have been deceived that what they were purchasing did not come as advertised. The American people deserve answers and assurances that this will not happen again."