Louisiana VW Settlement

    ALL PROPOSAL PERIODS ARE NOW CLOSED.

    Cycle 3 awards have yet to be announced.

    Last updated: MARCH 2020

    The Louisiana Department of Environmental Quality (LDEQ) solicited proposed project applications for the Louisiana Volkswagen (VW) Environmental Mitigation Trust three times with the third and final application window completed Oct. 1, 2019. Proposed projects were solicited for consideration by LDEQ, the Department of Natural Resources (LDNR), and the Department of Transportation and Development (LDOTD).

    As of March 2020, Louisiana has awarded $11.9 million to 16 parish school boards who applied for funding under the VW Environmental Mitigation Settlement. Approximately 117 of the 277 buses receiving funding are propane or compressed natural gas (CNG) driven. Additionally, LDOTD is utilizing approximately $6.6 million of our state’s VW funding to replace their aging diesel equipment and vehicles with newer, more efficient vehicles 

    The Louisiana Department of Agriculture and Forestry was also awarded funding for proposed projects that include replacing seven vehicles with $693,791 of funding. The Town of Hornbeck was awarded $75,000 to replace an old diesel dump truck with a clean-burning CNG emergency roadside nurse dump truck that will be used to refuel other CNG vehicles. So far, $664,000 has been awarded to 10 cities, towns, and universities to purchase 24 Dual Port Level II Electric Car Chargers, seven DCF Fast Chargers, and an electric charger to charge a city bus.

    In Round 3 of the VW Settlement, approximately $2.3m will be used for the installation of Level II and DC Fast Chargers throughout Louisiana. The focus of these chargers will be to improve the fast charging infrastructure along our interstates to facilitate long-distance travel, and the Level II chargers will support local charging. Round 3’s funded projects have not been finalized yet, but approvals are being worked on and will be announced by LDEQ in the near future.

    Background

    In 2017, Volkswagen (VW) pleaded guilty to charges that the company had installed software in its model year 2009-2016 2.0-liter and 3.0-liter diesel cars which circumvented Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) emissions standards using a “defeat device.” These vehicles emit up to 40 times more pollution than emissions standards allow in the form of nitrogen oxides (NOx), a pollutant that harms public health and contributes to ozone or smog formation.

    A federal court in California approved the Volkswagen settlement on Oct. 25, 2016. Volkswagen is required to pay $2.9 billion into an environmental mitigation trust fund to be shared among the states and tribes. Louisiana received more than $19 million over the past three years from this settlement. The money has been used to offset the excess air pollution caused by VW’s actions.

    Three Louisiana state agencies were designated to receive equal shares of the fund: LDEQ, LDNR, and LDOTD. These agencies were tasked to allocate the VW Mitigation Trust funds. LDEQ was designated the lead agency by the Office of Gov. John Bel Edwards.

    The agencies proposed to pool their funds to target the replacement of eligible diesel school buses. The bus replacement program offered partial funding to school districts to replace older diesel buses with electric, alternative fuel or high-efficiency diesel vehicles. However, government and non-government organizations, alike, were also eligible for consideration. To learn more about the VW Environmental Mitigation Settlement, visit LDEQ's Volkswagen page.

    Louisiana's Mitigation Plan

    The Louisiana Department of Environmental Quality (LDEQ) was designated the lead agency (beneficiary) by the Office of Gov. John Bel Edwards. Three Louisiana state agencies were designated to receive equal shares of the fund: LDEQ, the Louisiana Department of Natural Resources (LDNR) and the Louisiana Department of Transportation and Development (LDOTD). These agencies were tasked to allocate the VW Mitigation Trust funds.

    School Buses

    The agencies, with public input, pooled their funds to target the replacement of eligible diesel school buses. The bus replacement program offered partial funding primarily to school districts to replace their buses with their choice of electric, alternative fuel, or high-efficiency diesel vehicles. LDOTD is utilizing its share of the funds to replace eligible diesel vehicles and heavy equipment with new, less polluting engines. Other projects allowable under the mitigation were also considered. See Appendix D-2 for a complete list of project types allowed under the Volkswagen Settlement (beginning on page 53 of the document).

    The state's plan gave first consideration "to replacement or repowering of school buses owned or used by Louisiana school districts with newer, cleaner vehicles, and/or new cleaner-burning engines." These funds could not be used for fleet expansion. The goal was to get older, polluting vehicles off the road and to replace them with new, cleaner options. The amount of funding that the state allocated for school bus replacements was as follows:

    25% matching funds for the replacement or repowering of eligible buses with newer cleaner-burning diesel.

    50% matching funds for the replacement of eligible buses with eligible alternate fuels powered buses, including CNG, propane, or Electric.

    Funding for Electric Vehicle Charging Infrastructure (EVSE)

    The state's plan also included language which allowed the state to utilize "up to 15% of its allocation of Mitigation Trust funds on the costs necessary for, and directly connected to, the acquisition, installation, operation and maintenance of new, light duty, zero emission vehicle supply equipment for projects..." Louisiana had approximately $2.8 million in its fund available for EVSE projects. Electric vehicle charging infrastructure was the only type of fueling infrastructure allowed under the VW Settlement.

    The lead agency put a priority on Public EVSE infrastructure applications from state agencies and other government entities. Proposals from private entities were also considered. To view the state's plan and for more information, visit the LDEQ's Volkswagen page.

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