Washington state will receive a total of $140 million from Volkswagen to settle violations of the state and federal Clean Air Acts. We are managing these settlement funds to reduce air pollution from transportation in Washington.
In 2015, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) issued a notice of violation to the automaker Volkswagen after it was discovered that the company illegally installed software on many of its diesel vehicles. The software allowed the vehicles to pass emissions tests when, in reality, they were emitting between 10 and 40 times the permitted levels of harmful nitrogen oxides. These actions violated both the federal and state Clean Air Acts, violations that Volkswagen resolved in a series of settlements in 2016. According to the EPA, a single year of elevated emissions from the affected VW vehicles could lead to as many as 50 premature deaths nationwide, $423 million in economic costs, and 3,000 lost workdays.
$140 million for cleaner air in Washington
The funds are the result of a $112.7 million federal settlement negotiated by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and $28.4 million from a separate state settlement. Our goal for investing the funds is to maximize air pollution reductions in communities affected by harmful diesel exhaust, and to make transformational investments in zero-emission vehicles. We arrived at these priorities based on the guidelines of the federal Volkswagen settlement and direction from the Washington Legislature. Ecology is already putting funding from the settlements to work in Washington's school districts, public transit agencies, and public ports.
A steering committee, consisting of representatives from state agencies and the Governor’s office, guided our planning efforts. We also collected data to determine which communities are most affected by diesel pollution. We sought public input on the mitigation plan through webinars, briefings with legislators, and meetings with community organizations, and translated our educational materials into five languages. This outreach helped inform the 1,100 public comments we received on the draft mitigation plan.
Learn more about each settlement below:
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