We are managing a $28.4 million state settlement from Volkswagen for violating the Washington Clean Air Act. For years, the automaker installed software on many of its diesel engine vehicles to cheat emissions tests.This fraudulent software allowed up to 40 times the legal limit of harmful nitrogen oxides to be released into the atmosphere.
$28.4 million invested in Washington communities
During the 2018 legislative session, the Legislature approved using the funds to reduce harmful diesel pollution in Washington communities. We're investing the funds through grant programs to benefit schoolchildren, commuters, and people that live near transportation corridors. We will also fund projects that replace state agency vehicles with all-electric vehicles, and fund cleaner trucks at Seattle and Tacoma's public ports.
The Legislature directed us to allocate the funds as follows:
- $12 million to replace old school buses
- $9.5 million to electrify transit buses
- $5.5 million to add electric vehicles to state vehicle fleets
- $1.2 million to help public ports buy cleaner trucks
Replacing school buses
Children are most at risk from the health effects of diesel pollution and smog. Because of these risks, the Legislature allocated the largest portion of funds from the settlement to replace older, polluting school buses.
There are more than 3,000 school buses in Washington that are 17 years old or older. These buses use technology that emits substantially more pollution than today's options. Ecology has awarded $12 million so far to purchase 336 buses statewide in 83 school districts. Each $35,000 award roughly covers the costs to purchase clean diesel technology or upgrade to a clean propane engine.
Zero emission transit buses
Nearly five million people live in Washington's busiest transportation corridors, where air pollution levels are high. Millions of students, commuters, and people who live near bus routes are exposed to pollution from transit buses each day.
Ecology has awarded $9.4 million so far to purchase 19 electric transit buses in Lewis, Benton, Spokane, Clark, Pierce, Snohomish and King counties. We awarded up to $500,000 per bus in order to cover the costs to switch from diesel to all-electric.
Adding electric vehicles to state fleets
In 2015, Gov. Jay Inslee announced the Washington State Electric Fleets Initiative, setting a target that at least 20 percent of all new state government passenger vehicle purchases are electric vehicles. We are working with state government agencies to invest $5.5 million to add electric vehicles to the state fleets. This investment will save millions in fuel and maintenance costs, while reducing greenhouse gases and air pollution.
Helping Seattle and Tacoma public ports
In November 2018, we finalized a $1.2 million contract with the Northwest Seaport Alliance to scrap and replace dirty drayage trucks with clean diesel technology at Seattle and Tacoma's public ports.