Volkswagen (VW) violated the Clean Air Act by releasing approximately 500,000 vehicles that emit excess nitrogen oxides (NOx). In late October 25, 2016, a settlement that resolves claims of VW violation was reached, requiring the company to fund the Environmental Mitigation Trust (EMT).
Vermont became the official beneficiary on January 31, 2018, and has recently released their plan on advancing electric vehicle technologies in the state.
Vermont Agency of Natural Resources (ANR) is working with an interagency group to improve air quality and decrease transportation sector emissions in the state by urging citizens to transition to low and zero-emission vehicles.
They recently released their plan for how will the state use the funds from the EMT, including an electric school and transit bus pilot program.
On October 2, 2017, the EMT required all their beneficiaries to submit a Beneficiary Certification Form. Vermont presented the requirement on November 1, 2017, making the state as a certified beneficiary in January.
Availability of the funds depends on the Beneficiary Mitigation Plan that Vermont submitted. For the agreement, ANR asked the public to propose their most innovative ideas that suggest how to utilize the funds best to meet the purpose of the Trust.
Emily Boedecker, Commissioner of ANR’s Department of Environmental Conservation, said that they received a “powerful and encouraging response” from the public, suggesting that old school and transit buses should be replaced with new electronic models.
“Because of the enthusiastic public support for this idea, we’ve chosen to lead out of the gate with establishing an electric school and transit bus pilot program to test these new technologies in Vermont,” she said.
Vermont will receive $18.7 million from the VW mitigation fund for ten years. While heavy-duty electric vehicle technologies are still new and there is still little information for how these types of vehicles will perform in the state’s environment, the program gathers more information.
The electric school and transit bus program will be a way for Vermont to collect new ideas to determine how these technologies may be most effectively deployed in the state.