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WASHINGTON (AP) – An expanding investigation among U.S. state governments into Volkswagen’s emissions-cheating scandal could last years and will likely end in a settlement between the German automaker and states.

Forty-five states and D.C. have joined the review, investigating how VW was able to game emissions tests so that its diesel-engine cars appeared more environmentally friendly than they are.

The states’ attorneys general are expected to seek compensation for consumers and redress for environmental harm. They’ll build investigations under state laws that protect consumers from deceptive trade practices and set clean air standards.

Former Wisconsin governor and attorney general Jim Doyle says “this is a really important case” for states and has major economic and health consequences.

He says Volkswagen is “looking at an enormous settlement” given that a half-million cars are affected.

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