Report: Albuquerque research lab nearly duped into ‘compromised’ Volkswagen diesel research

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ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – A respected Albuquerque research lab is now being connected to Volkswagen’s diesel emissions scandal.

It’s a bizarre story now highlighted in a New York Times article that that involves New Mexico scientists, research monkeys, and diesel emitting tail pipes.

Written by journalist Jack Ewing, the article, “10 Monkeys and a Beetle: Inside VW’s Campaign for ‘Clean Diesel,’” outlines the research study that took place in Albuquerque starting in 2014.

According to the article, longtime legacy Albuquerque scientific research organization, Lovelace Respiratory Research Institute, was commissioned to do the study where scientists were unknowingly testing exhaust on an emissions cheating vehicle built by Volkswagen.

Volkswagen was outed in September 2015 for spending years building millions of so-called “clean diesel” vehicles that were found to be falsifying tailpipe emission levels. The vehicles were equipped with secret software that allowed the vehicles to automatically detect and cheat emissions tests.

The impact of Volkswagen’s scandal is visible north of New Mexico’s state line, alongside I-25. Just north of Pueblo, Colorado, a speedway parking lot is filled with thousands of recalled Volkswagen cars.

In 2016, New York’s Attorney General Eric Schneiderman called the scandal a “cover up” that was “deep, wide and long lasting.”

Volkswagen has since apologized for its actions and bought back customers vehicles, while being ordered to pay out billions of dollars in fines worldwide.

But it’s not just customers who were decieved, according to the New York Times’ (NYT) report. Volkswagen’s famous “Beetle” cars nearly cheated the Lovelace Respiratory Research Institute (LRRI), almost causing the release of likely bogus scientific data.

A company called European Research Group on Environment and Health in the Transport Sector (EUGT) paid for the research study. According to the NYT’s article, the group who paid for the study, EUGT, recieved its funding from Volkswagen.

The LLRI tells KRQE News 13 that the study was “designed to measure the health effects of diesel exhaust of a Volkswagen Beetle.”

The New York Times reports that the study tested diesel exhaust’s respiratory effect on LRRI’s macaque monkeys.

However, Albuquerque researchers weren’t told the car they were testing was rigged with Volkswagen’s emissions cheat software.

Meanwhile, accoring to the New York Times, the Volkswagen funded company paying for the study asked as recently as 2017 for results of the study to be published.

According to the NYT article, LRRI’s scientists only recently found out that the car used had Volkswagen’s cheating software. LRRI has since determined the study was compromised.

The LRRI declined KRQE News 13’s request for an interview Friday, but said they were deceived by the company funding the Volkswagen research and will not publish the study.LRRI provided the following statement to KRQE News 13:

“In 2014, Lovelace Respiratory Research Institute was hired by the European Research Group on Environment and Health in the Transport Sector (EUGT) to conduct a study that was designed to measure the health effects of diesel exhaust of a Volkswagen Beetle. Unbeknownst to LRRI, Volkswagen modified the engine in order to produce less pollution than it otherwise would have. When we learned of this deception, we determined the study was compromised. LRRI does not intend to publish this study because we do not know the specifics of how the engine was rigged. Therefore, the compromised study does not meet our standards for peer-reviewed publication. LRRI did not engage in any further work with the EUGT trade group. We are confident that LRRI upheld the highest integrity and standards for this study, as we do for all of our research.”–Dr. Robert W. Rubin, Ph.D., President & CEO, Lovelace Respiratory Research Institute

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