In January 2016 the United States and the State of California filed a lawsuit against Volkswagen (VW) alleging it had manufactured diesel cars sold and operated in the U.S. with systems intended to defeat emissions tests. These systems allowed vehicles to emit nitrogen oxide (NOx) pollution at levels up to 40 times the amounts allowed under the Clean Air Act.
The total VW settlement is over $15.7 billion dollars across three categories:
- Vehicle Buyback and Modification: $10.8 billion for buyback or emission control modifications on at least 85 perfect of the affected vehicles.
- Environmental Mitigation Trust: $2.9 billion in an account to be used for "Eligible Mitigation Actions" to achieve reductions of mobile NOx emissions. Eligible beneficiaries of this trust account include each of the 50 states and American Indian Tribes.
- Zero Emission Vehicle Investment: $2 billion for investments in zero emissions vehicles and infrastructure.
Montana will receive $12.6 million from the environmental mitigation trust. This trust fund will be used for projects that are Eligible Mitigation Actions under the trust that mitigate NOx emissions in the transportation sector. Projects eligible for funding include but are not limited to diesel trucks, buses, freight switcher locomotives, and airport ground support equipment. Vehicle replacements, engine upgrades and retrofits are eligible for funding. States can also use up to 15 percent of their funds for light duty electric vehicle charging stations available to the public or located at workplaces or multi-unit housing locations.
The Montana Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) is the state’s lead agency to oversee how Montana’s $12.6 million allocation is distributed and spent. DEQ will be consulting with other agencies and members of the public on how best to spend these funds on eligible projects to maximize air quality and other economic and environmental benefits. Prior to receiving funding, the agency must submit a Beneficiary Mitigation Plan describing how the state plans to use the funds. To develop the Plan, DEQ is seeking public input on state goals, criteria, focus areas and other issues associated with spending and disbursing the environmental mitigation trust funds.
To view information and additional resources from other states involved in the Volkswagen Environmental Mitigation Trust settlement please visit the VW Settlement Clearinghouse page. This page includes contact information and other state’s progress on their mitigation plans.