The MPCA has released a long-awaited plan to spend millions of dollars from the national Volkswagen settlement plan. The plan lays out how the state proposes to use the money to offset the pollution caused by VW’s programming their diesel cars to cheat on emissions tests, which spewed hundreds of tons of excess pollution into Minnesota’s air.
The draft plan details the first phase of spending settlement funds to replace large, older, dirtier diesel equipment or vehicles with newer equipment that runs much cleaner. The plan is open for public comment through March 19 and is available on the Volkswagen settlement webpage. Once the final plan has been submitted and approved by the court-designated trustee, the MPCA can begin inviting applications for projects, likely in summer 2018.
The MPCA plans to spend the funds in three phases over the next 10 years. The first phase makes available about a quarter of the $47 million for which Minnesota is eligible. Subsequent phases will take account of changing technologies and lessons learned in the first one.
Rocky Sisk, the MPCA’s coordinator for VW funding, says the agency learned a lot during a year of public input the agency sought on how Minnesotans would like to see the money spent.
“We held a lot of meetings and talked to a lot of people, and they gave us an earful,” he said. “Key themes included cost effectiveness, electric vehicles, alternative fuels, and reducing pollution in communities unfairly affected by it.”
“This plan reflects that feedback, balanced with what’s allowed under the settlement and our best professional judgment,” he added. “Now we want people to tell us what they think of it.”
During the 30-day public comment period, MPCA staff will hold more public meetings around the state to gather feedback on the draft plan. Visit the Volkswagen settlement website to learn more about the settlement, view the plan, and get information about upcoming public meetings.