The State of Ohio is expected to receive $71.4 million over 10 years as part of a multistate settlement worth $570 million with Volkswagen over the use of emissions control defeat devices in diesel passenger vehicles. Ohio EPA has requested input from the public on how best to spend this money. The settlement money will be used to fund grants and other initiatives to improve air quality throughout the state. Ohio EPA must prepare a plan to submit to the court appointed trustee to demonstrate how it intends to use its share of the funds. The plan must address a number of factors, including for example, the expected emission benefits and how the beneficiary will seek and consider public comment. Beneficiaries are specifically required to provide an estimate of the amount of NOx that their mitigation actions will reduce when submitting funding requests.
Eligible mitigation actions are focused on reducing NOx emissions from mobile sources such as motor vehicles and vessels. Actions eligible under the Diesel Emission Reduction Act (DERA) include truck stop electrification (electrified parking spaces to eliminate long duration idling), fuel efficiency and idle reduction equipment (single-wide tires, fuel-operated heaters, auxiliary power units, etc.), construction and agricultural equipment, smaller marine vessels, and diesel generators, among others.
Beneficiaries may use funds to purchase new all-electric vehicles such as government-owned school, transit or shuttle buses to replace existing diesel, government-owned school, transit or shuttle buses. In addition, states may use trust funds to pay for up to 75 percent of the cost of a new all electric replacement vehicles for nongovernment-owned fleets, and 100 percent of the cost of new, all electric school bus replacements in private fleets contracted with public school districts. The charging infrastructure associated with these electric vehicles can also be purchased with trust funds. To ensure that such replacements achieve the intended emission reductions, the replaced equipment must be scrapped.
Ohio EPA has indicated that the first priority for funding will be for projects in the Cincinnati, Columbus and Cleveland areas because of existing air quality problems. Ohio EPA is accepting early stakeholder comments through December 31, 2016. Ohio EPA will then draft a state mitigation plan, which will be circulated during a formal comment period in spring of 2017. More information is available at http://epa.ohio.gov/oee/EnvironmentalEducation.aspx#131365122-vw-mitigation-grants