Volkswagen federal enforcement action
The Trustee for the federal Volkswagen settlement has certified Washington as a beneficiary to the settlement’s environmental mitigation trust. The trust allocates $112.7 million to Washington to mitigate environmental damage caused by pollution from the violating VW vehicles.
The settlement resolves violations of the federal Clean Air Act after VW installed illegal software that cheated emissions tests on many of its diesel vehicles. Under the settlement, money can 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 and developing charging infrastructure for electric vehicles. Governor Jay Inslee designated Ecology to lead Washington's efforts to manage the settlement funds.
Hybrid-electric Jumbo Mark II ferry
We are dedicating up to $35 million to convert the first Washington state Jumbo Mark II ferry to hybrid-electric power. Allowing one of the state's biggest ferries to run primarily on battery power — instead of the ferry's massive diesel engines — will reduce fuel consumption by 400,000 gallons a year. Over the life of the ferry, the hybrid conversion will cut carbon dioxide emissions by 172,000 tons, and nitrogen oxide (NOx) emissions by 1,540 tons.
More importantly, installing batteries and allowing the ferry to run on electric power is the first step toward converting all three of the state's Jumbo Mark IIs to operate solely on battery power. When shore charging infrastructure is complete and all three of the Jumbo Mark IIs are converted, carbon emissions will fall by 48,565 tons every year — the equivalent of taking more than 10,000 cars off the road.
50 zero emission electric transit buses
We awarded $13.3 million from the $112.7 million federal Volkswagen settlement to purchase 50 electric transit buses in Benton, Clark, King, Pierce, Snohomish, and Spokane counties. The grants are intended to help cover the additional costs of purchasing an electric bus, compared to a conventional diesel bus. Transit agencies can also use some of the funding to pay for charging stations. Each county received up to $300,000 per bus to reduce diesel pollution. These new buses will eliminate 68,000 tons of carbon dioxide emissions, and cut nitrogen oxide emissions by 70 tons over the lifetime of the vehicles.
Funding eligibility and criteria
The federal settlement sets strict criteria for what investments are eligible for funding, including restrictions on engine types, model years, replacement or repower options, maximum funding percentages, and category restrictions. A federal trustee, Wilmington Trust, is in charge of disbursing funds from the federal settlement.
Funding from the federal settlement must:
- Fully mitigate the total, lifetime excess nitrous dioxide emissions where the violating vehicles were, are, or will be operated.
- Consider the beneficial impacts of funds on disproportionally impacted communities.
Identifying affected communities
Using data from the Washington Tracking Network’s “Diesel Pollution and Disproportionate Impact,” we identified communities that have historically borne a disproportionate share of the diesel air pollution burden. These priority communities have high-traffic transportation corridors and urban population centers, ports, and industrial facilities that can be sources of diesel air pollution, so they provide the greatest opportunity for Washington to achieve its mitigation plan principles and priorities.
Investing Washington’s federal VW funding
On Nov. 6, 2018, Washington filed its mitigation plan with the trustee after an extensive public outreach campaign and comment period. Now that the plan has been submitted, we can begin requesting funds. The mitigation plan was developed by a steering committee with input from:
- Office of Gov. Jay Inslee
- Office of the Attorney General
- Office of Financial Management
- Department of Commerce
- Department of Enterprise Services
- Department of Transportation
We are currently developing the first wave of funding opportunities through 2019. Additional planning for subsequent funding opportunities will likely begin later this year.
Additional information on the VW settlements
The EPA and Volkswagen entered into multiple settlement agreements that affect all 50 states, Puerto Rico, the District of Columbia, and tribes. Read more about the three settlements below:
Approximately $3 billion is available for states and tribes to fund projects that mitigate the past, present, and future harm caused by the excess nitrogen oxides emissions released by the affected vehicles. All 50 states, Puerto Rico, the District of Columbia, and tribes are eligible to become beneficiaries. Each approved beneficiary will receive a specific amount of money based on the number of affected vehicles registered in their area. For more information on eligible beneficiaries under the federal settlement, visit the Trust website.
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