Executive Director, CoPIRG
Executive Director, CoPIRG
Money Could Lead State’s Transportation Toward Zero Emissions Future
Today, Judge Charles Breyer said he was “strongly inclined” to approve a partial settlement between Volkswagen and the U.S. Department of Justice regarding VW’s emissions cheating vehicles and would make a final decision before October 25th. The proposed settlement would provide Colorado with at least $61 million to invest in pollution reduction strategies for Colorado’s transportation system.
An analysis of the proposed settlement by the Southwest Energy Efficiency Project (SWEEP) and the Colorado Public Interest Research Group (CoPIRG) finds that the money could add 60 electric charging stations to Colorado’s highways and upgrade approximately 100 buses across the state from diesel to electric.
“Colorado should seize this opportunity to hit the accelerator for electric vehicles,” said Will Toor, Transportation Program Director for SWEEP. “Because Colorado’s major utilities have been closing their most polluting older power plants and rapidly adding wind and solar, the state’s electricity mix is getting cleaner and cleaner so moving towards electricty as the fuel for vehicles puts us on a path to a zero emissions transportation system.”
“Volkswagen’s emissions cheating vehicles emitted pollutants by as much as 40 times the legal limit,” said Danny Katz, Director of CoPIRG. “We can’t claw back the unnecessary and damaging pollution that spewed into Colorado’s air because of Volkswagen’s polluting vehicles, so we need to ensure the penalties they pay, in addition to reducing air pollution, drive a transformation to a much cleaner transportation system.”
According to the proposed partial settlement, Volkswagen must pay $10 billion in compensation to owners of noncompliant VWs. It also includes $4.7 billion dollars that could help to accelerate the adoption of electric vehicles.
- $2.7 billion to an Environmental Remediation Fund, designed to reduce emissions of nitrogen oxides (NOx). This is distributed to each state by a formula based on how many VW diesel cars were registered in that state.
- $2 billion to a Zero Emission Vehicle Fund with investments proposed by VW and reviewed by the EPA. Of this $2 billion, $800 million is earmarked for California, leaving $1.2 billion for the rest of the country.
Colorado would receive $61 million from the Environmental Remediation Fund and the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment would be in charge of distributing the money.
Once approved, SWEEP and CoPIRG called on the CDPHE to invest 15% of the funds, or $9.2 million, into electrifying the Colorado highway system with a network of electric vehicle charging stations that will increase the number of places that Coloradans with electric vehicles can reliably drive to. They called for CDPHE to invest the rest of the money into replacing dirty diesel buses with cleaner electric buses.
According to their analysis, investing in this way would add 60 new fast charging, electric vehicle charging stations that could provide an 80% charge in 20-30 minutes. If one of these stations was placed every 30 miles in Colorado, it would be enough to cover I-70, I-25, I-76, and most of U.S. 160, U.S. 550, U.S. 50, U.S. 285 and U.S. 40.
In addition, SWEEP’s analysis of the current and future emissions from buses found electric buses release 73% less of the nitrogen oxide (NOx) gases that lead to ozone pollution and 62% less carbon pollution than diesel buses. Investing the rest of the funds in electric buses could convert approximately 100 diesel buses to eletric buses.
Marcus Moench, one of the estimated 9,668 Coloradans who was misled into purchasing one of Volkswagen’s deceptively dirty diesel vehicles joined SWEEP and CoPIRG’s call to the CDPHE to invest the anticipated settlement funds in the cleanest options possible.
“Volkswagen should be held accountable for intentionally deceiving consumers and violating the pollution control regulations that protect our environment,” Moench said. “The fines paid by VW should be applied to the cleanest options so we can begin to offset the damage to people’s health and the environment caused by their ‘defeat devices.’”
CDPHE said they will host a public hearing on November 7th to receive comments on how the settlement money for Colorado should be use. The public will have until November 21st.
In addition, Colorado can also compete for an additional pot of money that Volkswagen will distribute to states that pump additional money beyond the $61 million into zero emission vehicles and infrastructure.
The analysis can be found HERE
For a blog by SWEEP’s Will Toor on the settlement go to http://www.swenergy.org/huge-vw-settlement-can-electrify-transportation