Gov. Jay Inslee designated us to lead efforts to develop a state plan and manage the funds for the federal Volkswagen settlement.
Washington will receive $112.7 million to reduce emissions from the nearly 24,000 Volkswagens in the state with emissions cheating software installed in them. Volkswagen knowingly installed the software to bypass emission testing. The automaker settled with the EPA and as a result, states and tribes are receiving funds to reduce harmful air pollution.
States and tribes have federal court requirements that must be followed when developing plans. Plans must include the following components:
- Goal for use of funds.
- Public involvement process.
- Estimate of emissions reduced.
- Potential air quality benefits in disproportionately impacted areas.
- Spending percentages for each eligible spending category.
Approved spending categories
The settlement sets bounds on how funds can be spent. Money can only be invested in projects that replace or repower eligible vehicles, vessels, and equipment with new less-polluting diesel engines, alternate fueled (compressed natural gas, propane, or hybrid), or all-electric engines. Based on feedback from the public, state agencies, clean air agencies, and legislators, we proposed the following spending allocations in the draft plan.
Eligible Mitigation Action Categories with Preliminary Funding Allocation and Anticipated Percentage of Funds Eligible
- On-Road Heavy Duty Vehicles (≤ 45%)
- Priority: Electrification of public fleets, especially transit buses
- Class 4-8 School Bus, Shuttle Bus, or Transit Bus (Eligible Buses)
- Class 4-7 Local Freight Trucks (Medium Trucks)
- Class 8 Local Freight Trucks and Port Drayage Trucks (Eligible Large Trucks)
- Non-Road Equipment (≤ 5%)
- Priority: Electrification
- Airport Ground Support Equipment
- Forklifts and Port Cargo Handling Equipment
- Locomotives (≤ 5%)
- Priority: Publicly owned locomotives
- Marine Vessels (≤ 45%)
- Priority: Electrification of public vessels, especially ferry vessels
- Ocean Going Vessels (OGV) Shore Power
- Light Duty Zero Emission Vehicle Supply Equipment (up to 15%)
- Diesel Emission Reduction Act (DERA) Option (≤ 5%)
An inclusive process for Washington's plan
Washington’s mitigation plan was built on the foundation of public input. We conducted a robust and inclusive public process that began in February 2017. Our outreach activities included hosting multiple webinars, briefing legislators, and meeting with representatives from many different groups. We worked with representatives from communities with high-levels of air pollution, business associations, public transportation associations, local governments, and environmental groups. To broaden our reach and be inclusive, we translated materials into five languages and reached out to the environmental justice community and asked them to provide feedback. We also partnered with several agencies to collect data and created a tool using the Washington Tracking Network to determine where diesel pollution disproportionately affects the public. We also worked closely with the VW Steering Committee to provide guidance and expertise as we folded all of the feedback into the plan.
Public feedback on the draft plan
We held a public comment period on our proposed plan from Nov. 16 – Dec. 19, 2017. Comments were submitted by private citizens, environmental organizations, environmental justice organizations, business and business associations, local governments, local clean air agencies, and public transportation agencies. The comments broadly align with Ecology’s proposed plan. Support is especially strong for projects that maximize both climate and health benefits, promote electrification of vehicles, vessels, and electric charging equipment, and projects that benefit disproportionately impacted communities.
People also showed support for investing in the following types of projects:
The above summary doesn’t include comments received outside the bounds of federal requirements for use of the money or were specific to project selection, which the plan does not address. Public comments and the plan are available for review on our website:
- Cleaner engines in transit and school buses, with a preference for electric powered buses.
- Electrification of port vessels and equipment, including electric ferries and shore power for marine vessels.
- Electric charging infrastructure for passenger vehicles.
The VW Steering Committee is currently reviewing the public’s feedback on the draft mitigation plan. Some of the next steps for the group include:
States and tribes must submit plans to the settlement trustee, Wilmington Trust, at least 30 days in advance of requesting funds.
- Finalizing the mitigation plan.
- Prioritizing categories for project solicitation.
- Designing funding processes for awarding money for projects.
If you're interested in staying informed as the settlement progresses, sign up for our listserv to receive updates by email.