Governor Ralph Northam awarded $9.4 million to fund electrification of government-owned vehicle fleets for Dulles International Airport, Fairfax County, and Amherst County. The funds are part of the Clean Air Communities Program (CACP) and is funded by the Volkswagen Environmental Mitigation Trust (VEMT). Along with the $9.4 million awards, Northam announced a new round of VEMT funding: $20 million separate from the CACP to electrify school buses.
“Supporting clean transportation solutions is a vital part of our efforts to combat climate change and improve air quality in the Commonwealth,” Northam said in the May 7 announcement. “These investments will reduce harmful vehicle pollution, which disproportionately impacts marginalized communities, and help accelerate an equitable transition to a cleaner economy for all Virginians.”
VEMT is funded by Volkswagen as part of a settlement over the company’s alleged sale of vehicles equipped with “defeat devices” to cheat emissions tests, according to the Environmental Protection Agency.
“Volkswagen sold more than 500,000 excessively polluting vehicles in the U.S. More than 16,000 were sold in Virginia, and produced over 2,000 tons of excess nitrogen oxides (NOx) in violation of federal pollution standards,” states a Virginia Department of Environmental Quality (VDEQ) fact sheet.
The VEMT includes $2.9 billion divided across some U.S. territories and federally recognized tribes. The money is specifically marked to fund initiatives replacing diesel emission sources with cleaner technology. Virginia’s trust has over $93 million, administered by the VDEQ.
In addition to the CACP and the $20 million for electric school buses, funds from the VEMT are allocated as follows: $14 million for a public electric vehicle charging network, $14 million for electric transit buses, $14 million for port electrification, $4.68 million for administrative costs, and $6.92 million still unallocated, according to the VDEQ.
The CACP is supported by an additional $3.7 million from state and local governments. “CACP projects required at least a 25 percent cost-share. The $3.7 million is the total project cost-share being funded by the recipients,” VDEQ Senior Planner Angela Conroy told The Virginia Star.
Northam announced that the VDEQ will begin accepting applications for the second round of funding, focused on school buses, with a deadline of June 15, 2021.
“Currently, approximately 99 percent of Virginia’s public school buses use diesel and more than 3,500 buses are at least 15 years old,” Secretary of Natural Resources Matthew Strickler said in Northam’s press release. “This program will focus on replacing buses in disadvantaged communities already overburdened by pollution.”
– – –