VW violated the federal Clean Air Act by manufacturing diesel vehicles with software installed that cheated emissions tests by only turning on the vehicle’s emission control systems while the car was being tested.
What are the impacts to public health?
Nitrogen oxide pollution contributes to nitrogen dioxide, ground-level ozone, and fine particulate matter in the air we breathe. Exposure to these pollutants has been linked with a range of serious health effects, including increased asthma attacks and other respiratory illnesses that can be serious enough to send people to the hospital. Exposure to ozone and particulate matter has also been associated with premature death due to respiratory- or cardiovascular-related effects. Children, the elderly, and people with pre-existing respiratory disease are particularly at risk for adverse health effects from these pollutants.
The trust agreement says you have to consider communities that have borne a disproportionate share of air pollution. How will Ecology do that?
Using our robust data on air quality and air pollution emissions, we can map the parts of the state that have historically borne a disproportionate share of air pollution. In our plan, we wrote principles and priorities that give preference to projects that consider air quality improvements for communities that have been disproportionately impacted by air pollution. The public, partner agencies, environmental groups, and the business community supported this approach as we developed the plan.
What are the terms of the settlement the state must adhere to in spending the money? Can it only be used to reduce nitrogen oxides and to reduce the burden of them in disadvantaged communities?
The VW settlement funds can be used to reduce harmful nitrogen oxides emissions by replacing or repowering approved diesel engines or up to 15 percent can be used for electric vehicle charging stations. State plans must include a description on how we consider the potential air quality benefits in areas that bear a disproportionate share of the air pollution.
The settlement also includes administrative requirements associated with requesting funds, maintaining records and progress reporting, etc. See the final trust agreement for details.
How will the settlement help public health?
Beneficiaries are directed in the consent decree to consider their mitigation actions based on the benefits of reducing nitrogen oxide emissions in communities that have been disproportionately affected by the emissions.
The following map shows the estimated nitrogen oxides emissions from:
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Where were the affected vehicles registered?
The map below shows where the affected vehicles are registered in the state. We estimate about 87 percent of the affected vehicles are registered in 13 counties: Benton, Clark, Franklin, Island, Kitsap, King, Pierce, Skagit, Spokane, Thurston, Whatcom, and Yakima. The remaining 13 percent are dispersed throughout the remaining 26 counties.
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When will the funds be available?
The trustee hasn’t approved any states as beneficiaries yet and expect they will announce approvals by January 29. So, we estimate that funds will be available in late spring 2018.
Where will this money be spent?
Money will spent on projects within the approved categories defined in the settlement. Where it will be spent in Washington will be determined by a project selection process to be developed by the state VW Steering committee.
Are funds available to the private sector?
The trust agreement does allow for private sector funding as long as the project falls into one of the approved categories described in the settlement.
When do you expect this money to be released to purchase electric non-road equipment?
Once we finalize the draft mitigation plan, we will work with the state VW Steering Committee to develop a funding program. Jointly, we will develop guidelines to help us determine how we’ll consider and select projects. We expect to publicly release those guidelines in late spring of 2018.
Can funds be used for research such as de-carbonization of freight rail transport or studies related to the health effects of diesel engine exhaust particulate matter?
Research projects are not approved for funding under the settlement.
Are there opportunities to receive funds for stationary engines?
The funds may not be used for stationary engines. However funds may be used to provide shore power to ocean-going vessels.
Will funds be available for design of a new all electric Washington state ferry?
VW settlement funds cannot be used to pay for the design of a new ferry vessel.
According to the VW settlement terms:
Are all electric rail car movers eligible?
According to the VW settlement terms:
Why is up to 45 percent of the funding potentially earmarked for marine vessels, when only 7 percent of nitrogen oxide emissions in 2014 were from marine vessels?
Through public engagement and feedback, we developed a set of principles and priorities that are driving our recommended allocations. Feedback so far showed a strong preference to address marine vessels.
Also, one of our principles is to improve air quality in disproportionately impacted areas. Areas surrounding marine ports tend to be densely populated and receive exposure to large amounts of diesel pollution.
Keep in mind this is a proposal and we are actively soliciting public feedback so our investment levels may change.
Will privately-owned businesses have an opportunity to apply for VW settlement funds?
The VW settlement states that eligible categories include replacement/repower of both public and privately owned engines. However, Washington is proposing to prioritize the replacement of publicly owned engines. Keep in mind this is a proposal and we are actively soliciting public feedback so our investment thinking may change.
Why was Seattle chosen as a Phase I Pilot recipient for electrification by Volkswagen? I thought the plan (of which 15 percent of funds could go to electric vehicle infrastructure) was still in draft form.
The Phase I Pilot program is not the same settlement money the state is receiving. The federal VW settlement includes three distinct and separate parts a:
Over the next several months, we will work with the state VW Steering Committee to shape a funding program. That effort will include identifying project funding criteria such as requirements to match VW mitigation funds and to achieve emission reductions that would not otherwise occur. As reflected in our draft plan priorities, we expect leveraging of funds to be critical to maximizing the benefits of these funds.
Can DERA funds serve the same purpose as the funds in other categories, like replacing diesel buses?
DERA funds can be used more broadly than the VW settlement funds. To get up to date DERA information, visit the EPA website.
Can you clarify the priority "achieve emission reductions beyond what would already occur"? How would that be determined?
“Emission reductions beyond what would already occur” refers to the replacement or repower of vehicles, equipment, or vessels already scheduled for replacement or repower.
Most fleets have replacement schedules for their vehicles and equipment. We can use VW funds to accelerate vehicle and equipment replacement schedules. By scrapping older engines now, rather than years in the future, we achieve emissions reductions beyond what would already occur.
We intend to use funds to add to these planned investments in fleet turnover and emission reductions, rather than to replace already planned investments. Ecology will work with the state VW Steering Committee to determine funding program guidelines and criteria.
How will projects be selected for funding?
We haven’t determined the process or criteria yet. We’ve asked the state VW Steering Committee to help shape the funding program.
When can project proposals be submitted Ecology?
The trustee must first submit a list of all designated beneficiaries to the federal court by Jan. 29, 2018. We expect Washington to be included in this list.
After becoming a beneficiary, we expect to publicly release guidelines on how to apply for funds in late spring of 2018 and will send out notice on our email listserv (subscribe) and post them to our website.
What will the application process be and how do you intend to select projects?
Once we finalize the draft mitigation plan, we will develop guidelines on how to apply for funds and how we will select projects. We expect to publicly release our guidelines in late spring of 2018.
Where can I get details about the draft mitigation plan?
You can read the draft plan on our website.
Does the public support the proposed investment approach?
Over the past year, Washington residents were invited to give us input on how the money should be used and what investments were important to them. The proposed investment allocations closely align with what we heard from the public so far.
If we support the draft plan as written, what is the best way to frame our comments so that it gets implemented ASAP?
Please share your thoughts about the plan by using our on-line e-comments system or mail written comments by Dec. 19, 2017 to:
Department of Ecology
Air Quality Program
P.O. Box 47600
Olympia, WA 98504-7600
What are the next steps?
We’re waiting to be approved as a beneficiary by the trustee Wilmington Trust. The Trustee has until Jan. 29, 2018, to make that decision. Assuming we will be approved, in the coming weeks and months we’ll finalize our plan, develop the funding program, and establish a project selection process.
We are dedicated to keeping you informed as the settlements progress. We have developed a tentative outreach plan. Please be aware that the timeframes are subject to change depending on how the settlement progresses. If you have specific questions, please email us.
We are dedicated to keeping you informed as the settlement progresses. Sign up for our listserv to receive important updates, notices of stakeholder meetings and webinars via email.