SANTA FE — The state of New Mexico is set to receive about $18 million dollars in settlement funds following resolution of the Volkswagen court case.
The case involved more than 500,000 vehicles that Volkswagen installed electronics allowing cars to pass emissions tests while the vehicle actually emitted up to 40 times the legally allowed amount of nitrogen oxide into the atmosphere.
The environment department the state’s agency for disbursing the funds, most likely for projects that will reduce the level of nitrogen oxide and bring environmental benefits.
For violating the federal Clean Air Act, the settlement requires VW to invest $2.925 billion in an independently administered environmental trust fund for projects to fully mitigate the diesel emissions caused by the offending vehicles. All 50 states, Puerto Rico, District of Columbia and federally recognized tribes, have been allocated to receive a portion of the trust. The amount received will be based on the number of affected vehicles in their jurisdiction.
The NM environment department will guide the creation of New Mexico’s Beneficiary Mitigation Plan (BMP) and with public input will determine how the funds will be distributed for the benefit of New Mexicans and New Mexico’s sky. The New Mexico BMP will articulate:
• the goals for the use of funds;
• the categories of Eligible Mitigation Actions that are appropriate to achieve the stated goals;
• the percentages of funds to be used for each type of Eligible Mitigation Action;
• a description of how New Mexico will consider the potential beneficial impact of the selected actions on
air quality in areas that bear a disproportionate share of the air pollution burden;
• a general description of emission benefits that would be realized by implementation of the identified
Eligible Mitigation Actions; and
• a description of the State’s process for seeking and considering public input on the Beneficiary Mitigation Plan.
The national environmental mitigation trust establishes a process to administer the funds, and identifies ten categories of project eligibility:
1. Class 8 Local Freight Trucks and Port Drayage Trucks (Eligible Large Trucks)
2. Class 4 – 8 School Bus, Shuttle Bus, or Transit Bus (Eligible Buses)
3. Freight Switcher Locomotives
5. Ocean Going Vessels Shorepower
6. Class 4 – 7 Local Freight Trucks (Eligible Medium Trucks)
7. Airport Ground Support Equipment
8. Forklifts and Cargo Handling Equipment at Ports
9. Light Duty Zero Emission Vehicle Supply Equipment (Up to 15% of the Allocation)
10. Matching Funds for Projects Eligible under the Diesel Emission Reduction Act (DERA)
New Mexico’s environment department, with other state agencies, and public input, is developing the criteria for scoring projects, which will include the level of nitrogen oxide reductions and environmental benefits.
As the BMP is still in development, no decisions have been made about how to spend New Mexico’s share (approximately $18M ) of the$2.925B national settlement monies, or who will receive this money.
During August 2017, the Environment Department will conduct public outreach meetings in Albuquerque, Santa Fe, Gallup, Farmington, Las Cruces, and Roswell. At these meetings, representatives of the Environment Department will provide more details on the VW Settlement and solicit input.Like this story? Sign up for our daily newsletter to get more of our best original news.