Colorado is expected to receive $68.7 million from the Volkswagen settlement fund, after it was revealed that the German company cheated on its emissions tests, violating the federal Clean Air Act. The money is meant to help reduce the negative effects on the environment by the offending cars.
It all started back in 2015, when the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency discovered the violations. Volkswagen vehicles were coded to meet federal standards during testing, but then to revert back to a much higher level of emissions during regular, “real-life” driving. After the egregious plot came to light, Volkswagen settled with the EPA on a $2.7 billion trust fund, which according to an August press release by the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE), is to be distributed across the country to fund different projects that mitigate effects of higher emission levels.
Cheating on the emissions tests is a major issue—especially in a state where the majority of the polluting vehicles were registered in areas already suffering from poor air quality. The CDPHE, which is the state’s lead agency for dealing with the Volkswagen funds, says that around 65 percent of the cars were driving in what’s known as “ozone nonattainment areas,” or areas that don’t meet the 2015 standards for ground-level ozone established by the EPA.
Colorado expects to receive the $68.7 million from Volkswagen in 2018. Until then, it is enlisting the public’s help in determining where to allocate the funds. The CDPHE says it started conducting outreach in 2016 to get an idea of where Coloradans wanted the funds to go, holding around 15 presentations on the trust’s terms.
Here are the nuts and bolts of the proposed plan, announced in August.
- About $18 million will go towards replacing 400 to 500 medium and heavy-duty trucks, school and shuttle busses and airport ground support equipment with “alternative fuel or electric vehicles.”
- Another $18 million will be spent on replacing diesel busses (school, shuttle or transit busses) with greener options—ones that run on alternative fuel, for example, or electricity.
- About $10.3 million is allocated for funding zero-emission vehicle equipment, like charging stations, which would be placed in public spaces around the state.
- $5 million will go towards reducing emissions from existing diesel engines.
- About $5.3 million for implementing the zero-emission vehicles, including things like soliciting and reviewing applications, program outreach, and legal compliance.
- Colorado is leaving $12.2 million to be used flexibly. According to the report, the state will publish a revised plan in the future with more detail about how they’ll use those funds.
Share Your Thoughts
Send your ideas for how to use the VW funds by email at [email protected], or mail or hand-deliver your comments to:
CDPHE Air Pollution Control Division
ATTN: Christine Hoefler
4300 Cherry Creek Drive
South Denver, CO 80246