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Volkswagen Settlement

Volkswagen has agreed to settle allegations that it violated the federal Clean Air Act by selling vehicles that emit air pollution over the legal limit, and by cheating on federal emission tests to hide the excess pollution. The affected vehicles exceed federal emission limits for nitrogen oxide (NOx), a pollutant that harms public health and contributes to ozone or smog formation.

As part of the settlement, states are eligible to receive funds to pay part of the cost of projects to reduce diesel emissions from vehicles and to install electric vehicle infrastructure. Rhode Island will receive approximately $14 million from the trust between 2017 and 2027. The state must develop and submit a Beneficiary Mitigation Plan for funds to be released. The DEM is developing Rhode Island’s plan for using these funds to improve air quality in our state.

VW Zero Emission Vehicle Investment Commitment and Outreach Plan

Separate parts of the settlement require VW to spend $10 billion to buy back affected vehicles, terminate leases early, or repair the vehicles. Additionally, VW is required to invest $2 billion over 10 years in zero emission vehicle infrastructure, access, and awareness-building for Zero Emission Vehicles (ZEV). The entity created to oversee such planning and investment is Electrify America.

Electrify America is seeking input on their Cycle 2 ZEV Investment Plan (National and California), which over an investment period from July 2019 to December 2021. They’re looking for input on suggestions & data relevant to Cycle 2 investments, education & access suggestions, specific site locations, Cycle 1 comments & feedback, and vendor interest.

Submissions are due by March 1, 2018. Submit your ideas here:

How will Rhode Island use the settlement money?

The Department of Environmental Management is the designated environmental authority to oversee how the funds allocated to Rhode Island are used. Because the settlement money is meant to offset VW's excess pollution by reducing NOx emissions elsewhere in the transportation sector, there are limitations to how the $14 million dollars may be spent.

Process: States must submit a Beneficiary Mitigation Plan. This is a high-level, summary description of general activities states plan to fund.

The plan must describe the state’s overall goals for the funds, the types of project(s) the state plans to fund, expected emissions reductions from those project(s), and how the project(s) will advance environmental justice. The DEM is currently developing the plan. Once the DEM has a draft plan, we will provide it to the public for additional comment and input.

The Trustee who is managing the VW funds for the country must review and approve the Beneficiary Mitigation Plan. After the draft plan is reviewed by the public, the DEM will submit it to the Trustee for review and approval.

Latest Activities & Timeline

October 25, 2016 Settlement Effective Date Complete
October 2, 2017 Trust Effective Date (TED) Complete
December 1, 2017 Deadline to apply for Beneficiary Status Complete
January 30, 2018 Deadline for Trustee to Designate Beneficiaries Complete
30 days before First Funding Request- State Mitigation Plan Due  

Rhode Island submitted its beneficiary form to the US District Court, CA Northern District and to the Wilmington Trust (the Trustee) before the December 1, 2017 deadline.

Approval forms should be made available on the Trustee's VW settlement website.