Clean mobility experts, advocates praise state's plan for Volkswagen settlement funds

Volkswagen settlement to support electric school buses, EV charging infrastructure

LANSING - Clean Mobility experts and advocates today praised an announcement made by the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality (MDEQ) that it plans to use the $64.8 million awarded from a settlement with Volkswagen over faulty emissions tests on electric school buses and other cleaner vehicles, as well as electric vehicle charging infrastructure.

“Putting the VW settlement money toward replacing diesel school buses and investing in new electric vehicle charging infrastructure will help improve air quality and position our state for success in the changing mobility landscape,” said Charles Griffith, climate and energy program director for the Ecology Center. “The transportation sector is now one of the largest sources of carbon pollution, and prioritizing vehicle electrification will be essential to improving our air and water.”

Following a scandal in 2015 during which German automaker Volkswagen cheated federal and state emissions tests for vehicles, a fund of $2.8 billion was established to pay for damages. Michigan received $64.8 million as its portion of the settlement. The Ecology Center, along with Michigan Environmental Council, Michigan League of Conservation Voters, Environmental Law & Policy Center and Sierra Club submitted a joint public comment to the state in 2016 with recommendations on how the funds should be spent.

“We are happy to see the money from this settlement go toward reducing pollution from the transportation sector by investing in electric vehicle charging infrastructure,” said Charlotte Jameson, energy policy and legislative affairs director for the Michigan Environmental Council. “Transitioning to cleaner vehicles will bring significant health benefits to Michigan families and save consumers money. We hope state leaders and lawmakers build upon this investment and continue to push for greater vehicle electrification in Michigan.

According to a MDEQ press release, the first round of funding is expected to begin the end of 2018 and will go toward replacing diesel school buses. Funding will continue through 2019 and beyond until the funds are depleted, with a focus on ten counties that are identified as air quality priority areas in Michigan. More details on electric vehicle charging infrastructure are expected to be announced soon.

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Charge Up Midwest is a partnership of environmental and clean energy organizations actively working to increase electric vehicle deployment throughout the region in Illinois, Missouri, Michigan, Minnesota, and Ohio. Through Charge Up Midwest, organizations seek to engage with a broad range of stakeholders to support actions that increase investment in electric vehicle infrastructure, create a more resilient and low-carbon grid, expand education of the public and policymakers about the benefits of electric vehicles, and otherwise accelerate the production, sales and access to electric vehicles in the region for all Midwest residents.

Published on November 13, 2018