In the wake of an emissions scandal that cost Volkswagen billions of dollars, states that received a share of the $2.7 Billion Volkswagen environmental settlement are now determining how to spend their money. VW faced sanctions for using “defeat devices” on its diesel cars, so the vehicles would appear to meet federal emissions laws. In reality, when the cars were driven under normal circumstances—not while in test mode—the vehicles reportedly emitted exhaust with some pollutant levels up to 40 times higher than the federal limits. Consumers and various states filed lawsuits against Volkswagen, alleging the company misled them about the vehicle’s emissions.
States Consider How to Spend Volkswagen Environmental Settlement Money
Some states stand to receive more than $100 million from the multi-state Volkswagen environmental settlement. Though that money is meant to go to projects that reduce emissions, the states can determine which emission reducing projects the money will go toward, so long as the spending plan is approved by a board of trustees. As such, some states are now in the process of determining how to spend their share of the VW settlement. Some states have announced what they will do with that money, while others will seek input from the public before making a decision.
New York Clean Air Projects
New York, which will receive around $127 million from the settlement, is holding three events at which the public can submit ideas for clean air projects. Meetings will be held in Long Island City on July 10, Albany on July 20 and Rochester on July 24. In addition to attending one of the three meetings, people with clean air project ideas can submit their proposals through the New York Department of Environmental Conservation’s website.
New Jersey Reducing Diesel Emissions
New Jersey will receive around $72 million of the Volkswagen environmental settlement if it chooses to participate, which the state has not yet announced it will do. A bill, co-sponsored by Sen. Kip Bateman and Sen. Bob Smith, directs the State Department of Environmental Protection to spend the money on reducing diesel emissions in ports and on building more charging stations for zero-emissions vehicles.
“The single most important thing we could do for New Jersey right now to further clean up our air would be to really see a heavy emphasis on electronic vehicles,” Smith said.
Pennsylvania Will Choose Between Diesel and Electric
Pennsylvania will receive $118 million from the Volkswagen emissions settlement. According to reports, the state’s Department of Environmental Protection plans to spend money on diesel projects. Critics, however, say the money should be spend on improving the infrastructure for electric vehicles, such as having charging stations at all rest stops and replacing diesel buses with electric buses.
Texas to Reduce Smog
Texas will receive around $209 million to reduce smog-forming nitrogen oxides and a share of $1.2 billion for zero-emission vehicles and infrastructure. In June, the state and the city of Austin held a workshop to allow stakeholders to discuss various projects and technologies that would help reduce emissions. The state has not issued any final plans for how the VW settlement will be spent.
Oregon Replacing Diesel School Buses
Lawmakers in Oregon are discussing a proposed bill that would commit more than $20 million of the state’s share of the Volkswagen environmental settlement to replace diesel school buses with ones that use cleaner burning fuel. Senate Bill 1008 was original aimed at getting all diesel engines replaced, but the bill has been revised to focus on school buses.
Hawaii Undecided on Environmental Project
Hawaii will receive $2.5 million from Volkswagen as part of the settlement and can now ask for more than $8 million under the Environmental Mitigation Trust in support of environmental projects. The state has not said what it will do with the money.