VW Settlements Mean $$$ for Emission-Reduction Programs

July 5, 2016

The AASHTO Journal writes that the legal settlement from Volkswagen's emission scandal could spur a wave of project requests by states, transit agencies, ports and tribes to use the money to replace aging diesel vehicles from school buses to heavy trucks.

According to the EPA, VW is required to put $2.7 billion into a new trust fund to fund projects across the country that will reduce emissions of NOx where VW's 2.0 liter vehicles were, are or will be operated.

The emissions-reduction program will help reduce NOx pollution that contributes to the formation of harmful smog and soot, exposure to which is linked to a number of respiratory- and cardiovascular-related health effects as well as premature death. Children, older adults, people who are active outdoors (including outdoor workers), and people with heart or lung disease are particularly at risk for health effects related to smog or soot exposure. NO2 formed by NOx emissions can aggravate respiratory diseases, particularly asthma, and may also contribute to asthma development in children.

The settlement also requires VW to invest $2 billion toward improving infrastructure, access and education to support and advance zero emission vehicles.

The investments will be made over 10 years, with $1.2 billion directed toward a national EPA-approved investment plan and $800 million directed toward a California-specific investment plan that will be approved by CARB. 

 As part of developing the national plan, Volkswagen will solicit and consider input from interested states, cities, Indian tribes and federal agencies. This investment is intended to address the adverse environmental impacts from consumers’ purchases of the 2.0 liter vehicles, which the governments contend were purchased under the mistaken belief that they were lower emitting vehicles.

VW also announced that it will provide most states with additional compensation under a separate agreement. Volkswagen said "it has agreed with the attorneys general of 44 U.S. states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico to resolve existing and potential state consumer protection claims related to the diesel matter, for a total settlement amount of approximately $603 million."