It may be totally legal, but something about this bit of news is likely going to smell funny to a lot of people. Volkswagen, which is paying almost $15 billion in the US to clean up its diesel scandal mess. Two billion of that needs to be spent on zero-emission infrastructure, and that's already stirred up some controversy. VW is now saying that whatever its investment will be, it might just make money off of it.

Again, there's nothing in the settlement between VW and government regulators prohibiting this. EPA enforcement chief Cynthia Giles told lawmakers (who will be holding a hearing on the settlement on December 1 and have been asking questions in advance of that meeting) that, "While Volkswagen remains subject to all applicable laws, there is nothing in the [consent decree] that prevents Volkswagen from obtaining revenue from ZEV-related investments. Unlike the $2.7 billion that Volkswagen must place into a trust that will be administered by an independent trustee for the purpose of reducing Nix pollution, the ZEV investment requirement will be a business investment made by Volkswagen. Volkswagen may see a benefit from mandatory ZEV investments, and that would not be inconsistent with the [consent decree.] Volkswagen could have decided to make these investments even without this enforcement case, but now it is required to do so." You can read Giles' letter here (PDF).

The hearing will be held by the US House Energy and Commerce Committee because, "questions remain in regards to the implementation of [the settlement's] provisions." More to come next week.

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