Statement: Remaining $84 million Volkswagen settlement will fund electric buses and trucks, help clean up Illinois’ air

Media Contacts
Matt Casale

Former Director, Environment Campaigns, PIRG

CHICAGO – The Illinois state government announced on Monday a revised Beneficiary Mitigation Plan (BMP) for the Volkswagen (VW) settlement money, focusing the remaining $84.4 million settlement on electric transportation and infrastructure. A third of the remaining settlement will help school districts replace diesel school buses with all-electric models, a third will transition public transit to electric vehicles and around 20% will  help replace heavy-duty diesel vehicles, like garbage trucks, with all-electric models. The rest will fund light-duty-electric vehicle charging stations and program administration. 

In 2016, VW reached a $14.7 billion settlement with federal authorities for cheating emissions tests and deceiving customers. Illinois received a total of $108.6 million in settlement funds. In 2018, U.S. PIRG Education Fund released a report grading all 50 states’ plans to spend their VW settlement money. Illinois’ initial plan, which was replaced by today’s announcement, failed to prioritize electric transportation, leaving open the possibility that the money would not be used to help address air pollution and global warming.

In response, PIRG Environment Campaigns Director Matt Casale issued the following statement:

“Volkswagen breached customers’ trust and put all of our health at risk. But the Volkswagen settlement provided states with the perfect opportunity to kick-start the transition to a cleaner and healthier electric transportation system. As we found in our 2018 report, Illinois’ initial plan to spend the money fell short. Thankfully, its new plan, announced today, represents a u-turn toward a cleaner and healthier transportation system for the Prairie State.

“Getting to school or commuting to work shouldn’t include a daily dose of toxic pollution, or increase the chances that people will get sick. We look forward to seeing this $84 million used for more emissions-free school and transit buses, putting Illinois on the road to cleaner air and a healthier future.”