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Volkswagen settlement funds are helping MPCA clean up air pollution and invest in cleaner transportation

In 2016, German carmaker Volkswagen (VW) was caught cheating on emissions standards and violating the federal Clean Air Act by selling cars that emit air pollution over the legal limit.

As part of the settlement agreement reached with the federal government, Minnesota will receive $47 million plus interest between 2018 and 2027 from Volkswagen’s Environmental Mitigation Trust. Our goal is to use the settlement funds to support a healthy environment and reduce emissions in Minnesota, especially in communities most impacted by vehicle pollution.

Under the terms of the settlement, we can spend funds in two primary ways:

  1. Fund vehicle replacements. Take older, more polluting diesel vehicles off the roads and replace them with newer, cleaner models with a variety of fuel types.
  2. Invest in electric vehicle (EV) technology. MPCA may use a portion of funds (up to 15%) to install EV charging stations.

Minnesota’s plan provides more details on the types of projects to be funded, expected emissions reductions, and how the projects will advance environmental justice. Because vehicle and equipment technology are continually evolving, and Minnesota’s needs and desires will likely change over time, the MPCA will distribute settlement funds across three phases. This structure provides opportunities for MPCA to get feedback after each phase, incorporate lessons learned, consider new technologies, and make changes as needed.

  • Phase 1, 2018-2019 (Complete): $11.75 million
  • Phase 2, 2020-2023 (Complete): $23.5 million 
  • Phase 3, 2024-2027: $14 million 

Current status (Phase 3)

In Phase 3, the MPCA will invest the remaining VW settlement funds through six grant program areas that will allow different vehicle and equipment types to be compared with each other through a competitive grant process. With these investments, MPCA expects to reduce between 2,722 to 3,365 tons of nitrogen oxides, 153 to 297 tons of fine particles, and 32,264 to 63,338 tons of greenhouse gases.

Continuing a priority from Phase 2, half of the funds have been earmarked to support the electrification of Minnesota’s transportation sector. MPCA grant programs will fund eligible electric vehicles and invest the maximum allowed on electric vehicle charging stations under the terms of the settlement, including:

The remaining 50% will continue our commitment to achieving substantial emissions reductions by replacing older, more polluting diesel-powered vehicles and equipment with newer, cleaner technology that uses a variety of fuel types. Including a variety of fuel types allows businesses and communities across Minnesota to purchase the vehicles that best fit their needs and budget. Projects funded will include:

11986: Volkswagen VW - track our progress (Tableau)
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Track our progress

Use this interactive data tool to explore different metrics illustrating progress toward our goals.

More information