AMES -- As part of the next phase of a 2016 settlement with Volkswagen, a working group of state agency officials, led by the Iowa Department of Transportation, is seeking public input on a draft Beneficiary Mitigation Plan.
This plan outlines a high-level vision for use of Iowa?s allocation of funds from the Volkswagen settlement. This settlement was intended to improve air quality in the state.
There will be approximately $21 million available in Iowa for eligible projects that work to reduce nitrogen oxides. Eligible projects are defined in the Environmental Mitigation Trust for State Beneficiaries that was established in the nationwide settlement of the Volkswagen litigation. No state funds will be used for these projects.
The public comment period on the plan is open from now until May 25. A copy of the plan and the comment form can be found at www.iowadot.gov/vwsettlement/default.aspx. Note, this plan is not a request for specific projects to be funded by the Volkswagen settlement. Project proposals will be accepted once this high-level plan is finalized.
The draft plan was developed with the help of a public survey taken from February to April 2017. More than 500 respondents completed the survey and many others sent comments via email and letters. All 10 eligible mitigation actions received support from the public, with many requests to use the funds for school bus replacements, specifically for buses utilizing alternative fuel sources. The public was also overwhelmingly in favor of funding zero-emissions infrastructure for light-duty electric vehicles.
Iowa has combined the eligible mitigation actions into five categories and has established a target percentage of VW funds to be spent on each category: Class 4-8 buses - 45 percent; Freight and port drayage trucks - 15 percent; Non-road transport and equipment - 10 percent; Zero-emission vehicle infrastructure - 15 percent; and Diesel Emission Reduction Act grant - 15 percent.
More details about each category are outlined in the plan. These categories are geared to achieve significant, quantifiable reductions in nitrogen oxides (NOx) and maximize cost effectiveness while adhering to the settlement requirements.
Once the public comment period for the draft plan has closed, the comments will be reviewed and considered for incorporation into the final version. The Iowa D.O.T. anticipates there will be three application cycles for project funding after the plan is finalized. Find details on the project funding cycles on the Iowa D.O.T.?s Volkswagen settlement website once they have been determined. Interested people also can sign up for email updates on the progress of this initiative on this site.