VW settlement to fund NOx air pollution mitigation, with a focus on overburdened communities

Photo: Oregon Environmental Council

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) held a briefing for environmental justice stakeholders about two hours ago, and discussed the terms of the proposed consent decree with Volkswagon to compensate for damages caused by their illegally modified 2.0 liter diesel engines, and how it could benefit overburdened communities.

The briefing was opened by Mustafa Ali, Associate Assistant Administrator for Environmental Justice, and conducted by Assistant Administrator for the Office of Enforcement and Compliance Assurance Cynthia Giles.

Among the provisions of the decree is $2.7 billion to fully remediate the excess NOxemissions from these vehicles.  This money will be used to establish a mitigation trust that will provide funds to state, territorial, and tribal government beneficiaries to use for specific NOx reducing actions.

During his introduction, Mr. Ali emphasized that the decree was developed in a way “that will benefit communities most overburdened with diesel emissions and heavy traffic concerns.”

The decree is not yet final, and EPA urged briefing attendees to review and comment on the draft.  The comment period is expected to end in early August.

According to the EPA:

“Eligible mitigation actions include projects to reduce NOx from heavy duty diesel sources near population centers, such as large trucks that make deliveries and service ports, school and transit buses, and freight switching railroad locomotives.  Thus, for example, eligible mitigation actions could include replacing or repowering older engines for newer engines at a rail switchyard, or could include replacing older city transit buses with new electric-powered transit city buses.  Eligible mitigation actions may also include, in a more limited capacity, charging infrastructure for light-duty zero emission passenger vehicles. Beneficiaries have the flexibility to choose which projects on the list of eligible mitigation actions are the best options for their citizens.”

For more information on the proposed settlement, see the EPA website –  Volkswagen Clean Air Act Partial Settlement.