Branstad, Reynolds seeking public input related to $21 million Volkswagen settlement
Today, Iowa Department of Transportation Director Mark Lowe joined Gov. Branstad and Lt. Gov. Reynolds at their regular Monday morning press conference. As a result of two related Volkswagen (VW) settlements, the state of Iowa is expected to receive approximately $21 million in environmental mitigation trust funds over the next ten years set aside specifically for projects that reduce emission of nitrogen oxides (NOx). Branstad and Reynolds are asking for public input on how the funds should be spent. Iowa has developed a new website (http://www.iowadot.gov/vwsettlement) to provide information about the settlement and collect input on how the state should plan for using the mitigation funds.
According to the Environmental Protection Agency’s website, “These settlements resolve allegations that Volkswagen violated the Clean Air Act by the sale of approximately 590,000 model year 2009 to 2016 diesel motor vehicles equipped with “defeat devices.” The allegations were set forth in a complaint originally filed by the United States on behalf of the EPA on January 4, 2016, and amended on October 7, 2016, alleging that these vehicles are equipped with defeat devices in the form of computer software designed to cheat on federal emissions tests.”
“The settlement provides for an array of eligible projects that could benefit Iowa. We are asking Iowans for their input on the types of projects they believe will achieve the greatest long-term impact,” said Gov. Branstad.
Eligible mitigation actions include reducing NOx from heavy duty diesel sources such as freight trucks, school and transit buses, freight switcher locomotives, ferries and tugs, marine shorepower, air ground support equipment, and forklifts through projects that repower or replace older engines and vehicles. Eligible mitigation actions may also include limited funding for charging infrastructure for light duty zero emission passenger vehicles.
Lt. Gov. Reynolds said, “This funding has the potential to significantly and positively impact air quality in Iowa. We look forward to hearing Iowans’ creative ideas to improve our air quality.”
The public comment period will be open until April 14. Once all public comments have been collected, a working group comprised of officials from several state agencies and coordinated by the Iowa Department of Transportation will develop a mitigation plan that will be submitted to the VW settlement trustee.
The Iowa website also provides a subscription service for those who would like to receive updates on the progress of the mitigation plan and the overall settlement.