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State regulators fine Volkswagen $176 million over emissions

FILE PHOTO -- A shareholder walks next to a car prior to Volkswagen AG's annual general meeting in Hannover, Germany, Wednesday June 22, 2016. ( Nigel Treblin//dpa via AP)

SEATTLE (AP) - Washington state regulators have fined Volkswagen $176 million, saying the automaker put people's health at risk by releasing harmful air pollutants in its emissions-cheating scandal.

The Department of Ecology said Thursday the company violated state clean-air laws when it installed illegal software on many of its diesel vehicles to trick emissions tests.

The department says Volkswagen vehicles emitted up to 40 times the allowable amount of harmful nitrogen oxides while being driven. The agency said it based its fine on violations per vehicle, and the penalty holds Volkswagen accountable for environmental damage from more than 21,000 vehicles registered in Washington.

Volkswagen said in a statement Thursday that it is working with federal and state agencies on a national resolution of remaining environmental issues on the issue. It said "it is regrettable that some states have decided to pursue environmental claims now" after supporting the federal and state process.

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