Sept. 21, 2017 -- The Nebraska Department of Environmental Quality (NDEQ) has been designated by Governor Ricketts as the lead agency to administer funds allocated to the state from the Volkswagen Environmental Mitigation Trust (VW Trust). NDEQ is now seeking input from the public on the development of a Mitigation Plan to best utilize these funds to benefit Nebraska and meet the purpose of the VW Trust.
VW Meetings Scheduled in Lincoln, North Platte
Meetings will be held Oct. 16 in Lincoln and Oct 18 in North Platte to provide an overview of the settlement and provide the opportunity to ask questions and provide comments. (See more information below under “Public Meetings” heading.)
In October 2016, a U.S. District Court granted final approval of a $14.7 billion settlement against Volkswagen (VW) and Audi for equipping more than 500,000 of their 2.0-liter diesel vehicles to falsify vehicle emissions tests in violation of the Clean Air Act. A second partial settlement with VW filed in December 2016 addresses vehicles containing 3.0-liter engines. These court settlements require VW to establish a $2.925 billion Environmental Mitigation Trust Fund to assist states and tribes to offset the excess nitrogen oxide (NOx) pollution emitted by the offending diesel vehicles. On March 20, 2017, the court appointed Wilmington Trust, N.A. as the trustee for the VW Trust. Each state’s initial allocation from the fund is based on the number of offending VW/Audi diesel vehicles registered there. Nebraska is eligible to receive approximately $12.25 million from the Trust, which will have a 15-year time span. No more than one-third of the available funds may be requested each year for the first three years of the Trust.
This summary explains the actions that Nebraska could take using funds from the Environmental Mitigation Trust and outlines opportunities for public comment during the planning process.
Nebraska Mitigation Plan
As the state’s designated lead agency, NDEQ will administer how the VW Trust money will be distributed and spent in Nebraska. As required by the VW Trust, NDEQ is working with other sectors of state government to establish a public process to develop a plan to administer the funds. For more detailed information, see the document located at the top of this web page: “Request for Public Comment on the Development of a Nebraska Mitigation Plan under the Volkswagen Environmental Mitigation Trust”.
As a beneficiary of the Trust, Nebraska will be required to develop a Mitigation Plan that summarizes how the state intends to use the funds allocated to it under the Trust to achieve reductions in NOx emissions. The Mitigation Plan must include opportunities for public comment and must be submitted to the Trustee for approval. The plan will describe which eligible mitigation actions Nebraska will pursue, the expected emission reduction benefits, and how these benefits will affect areas in the state that are disproportionately affected by air pollution.
Nebraska will continue to have flexibility even after decisions are developed in the initial Mitigation Plan. During the course of the Trust, the state will be allowed to adjust its goals and selection of mitigation actions at its discretion by providing updated Mitigation Plans to the Trustee.
Mitigation Activities Eligible for Funding
Trust funds can only be expended for specific actions designed to reduce NOx emissions.
The eligible actions and their maximum allowed reimbursement percentages are spelled out in the court settlement and summarized below. For full details, see the Environmental Mitigation Trust Agreement for State Beneficiaries. *
Diesel Engine or Vehicle Replacements
The following types of diesel vehicles are eligible for engine or vehicle replacement with a cleaner diesel or alternative-fuel, hybrid, or all-electric engine or vehicle*:
Trust funds can cover up to 100% of the replacement costs for government vehicles. For non-government vehicles, trust funds can cover up to 75% of the cost for all-electric replacements and 25-40% for clean diesel or alternative-fuel replacements.
(* Ferry boats, tug boats, and shorepower equipment for ocean-going vessels are also eligible for replacement/repower under the trust.)
All-Electric Replacement/Repower for Specialty Vehicles
The following types of vehicles can be replaced with an all-electric vehicle or engine:
- Large Local Freight Trucks (Class 8) and Port Drayage Trucks
- Class 4-8 School Bus, Shuttle Bus, or Transit Bus
- Medium Local Freight Trucks
- Railroad Freight Switcher Locomotives
Trust funds can cover up to 100% of the costs for government-owned equipment and up to 75% of the cost for non-government equipment.
Light-Duty Zero Emission Vehicle Supply Equipment (maximum 15% of funds)
A maximum of 15% of Nebraska’s Trust allocation could be used for the purchase, installation, operation, and maintenance of new energy supply (recharging) equipment for zero-emission vehicles including all-electric vehicles and hydrogen fuel-cell vehicles. Costs for publicly-available electric charging equipment can be covered up to 100% for government-property installations and up to 80% for those on private property; installations not available to the public can be reimbursed up to 60%. Equipment installed at single-unit private residences is not eligible.
Matching funds for projects eligible under the Diesel Emissions Reduction Act (DERA)
The DERA Clean Diesel program funds diesel vehicle/engine replacements in several of the categories above, and also includes long-haul trucks, non-road engines (construction and agricultural equipment), emission reduction and idle reduction retrofit technologies, and truck stop parking space electrification projects. For details, see the EPA Clean Diesel website. *
- Airport Ground Support Equipment
- Forklifts (lift capacity 8,000 lbs or greater) and Port Cargo Handling Equipment
Timeline and Next Steps
Following the court’s March 20, 2017, appointment of Wilmington Trust, N.A. as the trustee for the VW Trust, and the September 2017 designation of NDEQ as the agency to administer the VW Trust, the next step is for Nebraska to request to be certified as a Trust beneficiary. This certification is expected to be announced within 120 days of the Trust Effective Date. Nebraska will then have to file its Mitigation Plan to the Trustee at least 30 days prior to submitting any request for project funding. The initial Mitigation Plan should be available in late November, 2017.
NDEQ is soliciting input from the public on the development of Nebraska’s plan to reduce NOx emissions using funds provided by the VW Environmental Mitigation Trust. For more detailed information, see the document located at the top of the page “Request for Public Comment on the Development of a Nebraska Mitigation Plan under the Volkswagen Environmental Mitigation Trust.”
Public comments are now invited during this first phase of the review process, as NDEQ develops a draft Mitigation Plan. Comments received by Nov. 3, 2017 will be considered during the development of the draft plan.
Electronic Submission of Comments
The preferred method of submitting comments is through NDEQ’s on-line Volkswagen Environmental Mitigation Plan comment portal:
This page allows members of the public to post comments and upload supporting documents. You will receive an e-mail acknowledging posting of your comment. You can also use the portal to search for and view posted comments.
Submission by Mail or E-mail
You may also submit comments to the Department via mail or e-mail as follows:
Nebraska Department of Environmental Quality
Air Quality Division, Attn. VW Comments
P.O. Box 98922
Lincoln, NE 68509-8922
Formal Public Comment Period Following Draft Mitigation Plan
Based on the initial public feedback, NDEQ will develop a draft mitigation plan including the required components and subject to approval by the Governor. NDEQ proposes to release a draft Mitigation Plan in late November, 2017.
The state has the discretion to adjust the Mitigation Plan’s objectives and specific spending strategies when necessary. Any updates to the Plan will be submitted to the Trustee and made available on the NDEQ website.
Two meetings have been scheduled in mid-October to invite public discussion of the development of a plan to use funds allocated to the state from the Volkswagen Environmental Mitigation Trust.
The specific times and locations of the meetings are:
Oct. 16 – 1:00 p.m. at the Lancaster Event Center, 4100 N. 84th St., Lincoln.
Oct. 18 – 1:00 p.m. at Best Western Plus, 3201 S. Jeffers St., North Platte.
The meetings will begin with a presentation giving an overview of the settlement and the diesel emission mitigation actions that are available for funding under the Trust. Attendees will then have the opportunity to ask questions and provide comments on Nebraska’s development of a Mitigation Plan under the Trust.
PDFs of the agendas and the meeting presentation can be found at the bottom of this page.
Other Parts of the Volkswagen Settlements
Buyback, Lease Termination, Vehicle Modification, and Emissions Compliant Recall Program
Volkswagen is required to earmark about $11.2 billion to buy back affected noncompliant vehicles, terminate leases early, or repair the vehicles by 2019 or 2020 depending on the make and model. Volkswagen administers this part of the settlement directly with affected vehicle owners. Additional information is available at www.VWCourtSettlement.com.*
National Zero Emissions Vehicle (ZEV) Investment Plan
Volkswagen is required to invest $1.2 billion outside of California over 10 years to install and promote the use of infrastructure for zero emissions vehicles (ZEV). This part of the settlement will be administered by Volkswagen and the U.S. EPA in four 30-month investment cycles. The first round of project proposals closed January 16, 2017. Proposals for the second round are currently being accepted by Volkswagen. Additional information is available at www.electrifyamerica.com.*
Resources(See attached file: NDEQ_VW_Mitigation_Planning_Presentation.pdf)
* This Page contains links to Non-NDEQ websites, these links will open in a New Tab or Window