Hundreds of millions of dollars in settlements from the VW diesel emissions cheating scandal will be made available for emissions reduction technology investment in California and Connecticut.
The California Air Resources Board has approved a plan to use the $423 million National VW Environmental Trust to invest in clean vehicle technologies with a large chunk of it aimed at the heavy-duty vehicle sector.
And Connecticut Gov. Dannel P. Malloy (D) announced that he was making $7.5 million from the VW settlement available for projects that would reduce NOx emissions in his state.
The $423 million National VW Environmental Trust Fund was the result of a partial settlement with Volkswagen and the State of California over the car manufacturer’s use of cheat devices that allowed its diesel-powered vehicles to pass emissions testing that violated the Clean Air Act. Volkswagen agreed to pay the U.S. a penalty of $1.45 billion for violating the CAA and also set up a $2.92 billion trust to go towards zero emissions vehicle infrastructure and technology.
CARB is allocating $90 million for zero emissions heavy-duty freight and drayage trucks and an additional $70 million for zero emissions port equipment and marine projects. The largest portion of the available funding, $120 million, will go towards zero emission public transit and school buses. California Senate Bill 92 required the state to use at least 35% of the Environmental Trust to benefit disadvantaged communities and the approved plan invests 50% of the available funds to those communities, according to CARB.
“This is a landmark moment in the saga of Volkswagen’s environmental violations,” said Mary D. Nichols CARB chair. “Over the next 10 years this plan will put in place not only tools to clean up VW’s excess emissions, but also to help achieve further reductions of smog-forming pollution for decades to come.”
Rather than divvying it up beforehand, Connecticut is making its $7.5 million settlement funding available through the state's Department of Energy and Environmental Protection for projects that would reduce NOx emissions. Application forms and guidance for the Diesel Emissions Mitigation Program are available on DEEP’s website. Project proposals must be submitted to DEEP by July 31.
“While it will be impossible to offset the entirety of pollution that resulted from VW’s emissions cheating, the release of these funds will help to improve air quality and protect public health in Connecticut,” said Gov. Malloy.
About 600,000 VW 2.0L and 3.0L diesel passenger vehicles sold in the U.S. were using the emissions test cheating software, of which 87,000 were sold in California. The illegal software was designed to operate emissions control equipment when a vehicle was being tested and then shut off when the cars were actually out on the road. An investigation determined that the altered vehicles emitted as much as 40 times the legal standard for NOx when the emissions equipment was switched off, according to CARB.