[11/27/17] Some Of The $14.7 Billion Settlement With Volkswagen Will Be Used To Improve Air Quality

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Washington state aims to turn an environmental scandal into an opportunity to transform the transportation system and improve air quality under a new proposed plan released earlier this month. The plan would use $112.7 million the state is eligible to receive from a federal settlement with Volkswagen to reduce air pollution from diesel vehicles and increase access to electric vehicle infrastructure. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and California negotiated a $14.7 billion nationwide settlement with Volkswagen for violating the federal Clean Air Act after the automaker admitted installing illegal software on many of its diesel vehicles to cheat emissions tests. As a result, these vehicles emitted up to 40 times the permitted levels of nitrogen. Approximately 24,000 of the affected vehicles were registered in Washington, making the state eligible for $112.7 million from the settlement. That works out to roughly $4,700 per vehicle. Gov. Inslee designated the Washington Department of Ecology as the agency to lead efforts to develop the state’s plan, ensure the plan meets the settlement requirements, and manage the funds. Over the past year, Washington residents were invited to give Ecology input on the vision for selecting projects that reduce emissions and identifying what investments were important to them. Camille St Onge is the Communications Manager for the Washington State Department of Ecology.

112017 ST. ONGE BITE#1 :33

“….what the people of Washington think.”

Under the plan, a portion of the funds are earmarked for reducing diesel emissions throughout the states transportation systems with the remainder of the funds being put toward various options.

112017 ST. ONGE BITE#2 :40

“….are a really great option for that.”

The next step for the Dept of Ecology and other state departments that have been working with Ecology on the plan, such as Transportation, Commerce, Enterprise Services, Office of Financial Management and the Attorney Generals Office is to design the funding program and a process to select projects. Before any projects get the green light, the public is being invited to upcoming meetings to learn more about the settlement, how Washington can invest the money, and the proposed plan. The first meeting is a webinar from the Dept. of Ecology website and takes place tomorrow at 10am with the 2nd meeting this Wednesday in the form of a Facebook streaming town hall at 6pm. For more information on either meeting, to review the proposed plan or provide online feedback, check out the state dept. of Ecology’s website @ecology.wa.gov. According to Camille St. Onge, this is a unique situation for the state of Washington in being able to invest cleaner transportation.

112017 ST. ONGE BITE#3 :24

“….really good for Washington communities.”

The public is invited to review and share feedback on the plan through Dec. 19th.