From Deceit to Transformation

How California Can Leverage Volkswagen Settlement Funds to Accelerate Progress to a Clean Transportation System

A new report from CALPIRG Education finds that $381.3 from the Volkswagen (VW) settlement is headed to California to help clean up the state’s transportation system and recommends using the funds to purchase electric vehicle fast charging stations for the state’s highways along with an aggressive expansion of all-electric transit buses to replace aging, dirty, diesel buses. The report finds that this amount of investment could purchase as many as 1,143 fast charging stations and 405 all-electric, zero-emissions buses, reducing dangerous pollution and saving money, all while accelerating further market transformation to an all-electric transportation system.


CALPIRG Education Fund

Volkswagen’s systematic emissions cheating resulted in 567,000 Americans purchasing a “clean diesel” vehicle that emitted NOX pollution at up to 40 times the legal limit. Thankfully, VW was caught and the recently announced settlement is one way the company is being held accountable.

California has no way of clawing back the unnecessary and damaging pollution that spewed into its air because of Volkswagen’s defeat devices. Therefore, we need to ensure that any money VW pays in settlements is invested in moving the transportation system toward a cleaner and cheaper future. Focusing this investment in electrification significantly reduces pollution from vehicles now and in the future, leading to a market transformation toward a zero-emission transportation system.

California is expected to receive $381.3 million from the Environment Mitigation Trust, which the state can invest over the next three to 10 years. California should invest 15 percent of that money to build out an electric vehicle charging station grid along our highways and the rest should be invested to replace older diesel buses with electric buses and build the accompanying infrastructure for electrified transit.

In addition, California should continue to actively advocate for the California-specific ZEV funds to be used on increasing the adoption of electric vehicles through increased EV charging infrastructure as well as increased public awareness of the benefits of electric vehicles.

This approach will maximize the long-term benefits to California’s air quality and create a fundamental market transformation towards electrifying transportation, leading us to a zero emissions future and furthering tipping the scale toward a cleaner, electrified transportation system.