In September 2017, the Nebraska Department of Environmental Quality (now the Department of Environment and Energy, NDEE) was designated by Governor Ricketts as the lead agency to administer funds allocated to the state from the Volkswagen Diesel Emissions Environmental Mitigation Trust for State Beneficiaries, Puerto Rico, and the District of Columbia (VW State Trust). As directed by the VW State Trust Agreement,* these funds are to be used to undertake authorized actions to reduce nitrogen oxide emissions in Nebraska. The initial allocation to Nebraska from the VW State Trust is approximately $12.25 million.
As required by the VW State Trust, NDEE subsequently sought public input and has developed Beneficiary Mitigation Plan (see attachment above) to best utilize these funds to benefit Nebraska and meet the purpose of the VW State Trust. The goal of Nebraska’s plan is to achieve significant, sustainable, and cost-effective reductions in nitrogen oxide emissions and other diesel pollutants to improve air quality in the state. The Nebraska Diesel Emission Mitigation Program will undertake projects in accordance with the Nebraska Mitigation Plan and the VW State Trust.
Public documents pertaining to the mitigation actions listed below may be accessed using the Public Documents link on the Nebraska Volkswagen Environment Mitigation Plan web portal: https://ecmp.nebraska.gov/DEQ-VW/. *
Mitigation Actions Eligible for Funding
NDEE assessed the mitigation actions available through the VW State Trust in the context of Nebraska’s air pollution issues, population distribution, transportation infrastructure, estimated project cost-effectiveness, potential public health benefits, and public comments. After evaluating the responses to the first several years of program funding, NDEE has updated the Beneficiary Mitigation Plan as allowed by the Trust and adjusted the allocation of funds to several project categories. The table below summarizes the project categories selected for funding and the percentage of funds expected to be available in each category. NDEE anticipates expending most of the available funds over by 2023.
Transit Bus Alternative Fuel Replacements
School Bus Diesel and Alternative Fuel Replacements
Diesel Emission Reduction Act (Clean Diesel Program)
Zero Emission Vehicle (ZEV) Charging Infrastructure
Administrative Costs (maximum 15%)
* Eligible Mitigation Action Number in the VW State Trust Agreement
Transit Bus Alternative Fuel Replacements (10%)
NDEE is utilizing 10% of Nebraska’s VW State Trust funds, or approximately $1.2 million, to replace diesel public transit buses as authorized under Eligible Mitigation Action 2. The public transit agencies that operate eligible buses in Nebraska are Omaha Metro and Lincoln StarTran. NDEE awarded $724,901 to Omaha Metro for the replacement of two diesel buses by CNG-fueled Bus Rapid Transit vehicles, and $489,934 to StarTran for the replacement of two diesel buses by battery-electric buses. The replaced diesel buses must be scrapped.
School Bus Diesel and Alternative Fuel Replacements (52%)
NDEE plans to utilize 52% of Nebraska’s VW State Trust funds, or approximately $6.3 million, to provide rebates to replace diesel school buses (Class 4 to 8, engine model year 2009 or older) as authorized under Eligible Mitigation Action 2. Funding is available to replace diesel buses with new buses fueled by diesel, CNG, or propane. Reimbursement percentages vary depending on whether the recipient is a public or private entity and on the fuel type of the replacement bus. NDEE anticipates awarding school bus replacement funds in 2 or 3 annual funding cycles beginning in 2018.
A list of schools that are receiving or have received school bus replacement rebates under this program can be found here: School Bus Rebate Recipients.
2020 School Bus Rebate Program
Beginning June 1, 2020, the Nebraska Department of Environment and Energy (NDEE) is soliciting applications to the Nebraska Diesel Emission Mitigation Program for a third round of school bus replacement projects. NDEE anticipates awarding up to 44 school bus rebates during this year’s program. NDEE may adjust the number of rebate awards based on the number of applications received and the types of replacement buses proposed. Applications must be submitted and complete by 5:00 PM on August 7, 2020 in order to be considered.
Any Nebraska public school district or private school system that offers primary or secondary education is eligible for this funding opportunity. Companies that own buses and have a current agreement with a school district/system are also eligible to apply if they are either headquartered or have an operational base office in Nebraska. Each school district or company may apply for one rebate for one bus. Previous recipients of a Nebraska or EPA Clean Diesel School Bus Rebate (2013 or later) are eligible to apply, but preference will be to given schools that are not previous rebate recipients.
Vehicles eligible for replacement are school buses with diesel engines with model year 2009 or older and with Gross Vehicle Weight Rating (GVWR) of 14,001 pounds or greater (GVWR Class 4 to 8). The bus must be used currently to transport students to and from school or school-related activities. Applicants are required to certify that their bus meets these criteria on the application form.
Eligible replacement vehicles are new or used school buses with engine model year 2019 or newer, certified to EPA emission standards. The replacement school bus may operate using conventional diesel (ULSD) or alternative fuels (e.g. propane, compressed natural gas), or an all-electric drivetrain.
More information and the downloadable application are available here: 2020 School Bus Rebate Application Information.
If your school is selected to receive a rebate, information on carrying out and documenting your project and requesting reimbursement can be found here: 2020 School Bus Rebate Selectee Information.
2019 School Bus Rebate Program
Sixty-two complete applications were received, and the Department decided to select all applications for funding, for a total of $2.642 million in rebates.
If your school was selected to receive a rebate, information on carrying out and documenting your project and requesting reimbursement can be found here: 2019 School Bus Rebate Selectee Information.
2018 School Bus Rebate Program
Forty-two schools applied for rebates, and NDEE elected to fund all of the rebate projects. Two schools subsequently withdrew their applications. A total of $1.397 million in rebates were awarded.
Matching Funds for Diesel Emission Reduction Act (DERA) Projects
As provided by Eligible Mitigation Action 10 (DERA option), Nebraska plans to use 18% of its VW State Trust allocation, or approximately $2.2 million, as additional funding for the Nebraska Clean Diesel Program authorized by the Diesel Emissions Reduction Act (DERA) and funded by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Nebraska’s VW Trust funds are being used as a voluntary state match or overmatch to the annual funds provided by EPA. The DERA option allows use of VW State Trust funds for any actions that are authorized by the Clean Diesel program, whether or not they are specifically authorized in the VW State Trust Agreement. The Clean Diesel program provides a wider range of diesel emission reduction actions than the VW State Trust, including engine replacements for non-road diesel equipment, such as agricultural irrigation engines, farm equipment, and construction equipment.
The application period for the Nebraska Clean Diesel Program typically opens around October 1 each year. In the 2017 and 2018 funding cycles, NDEE used VW State Trust funds for the replacement of 7 diesel refuse trucks and for electric replacements of 43 diesel irrigation engines. In the 2019 funding cycle, Trust funds are being used for the replacement of two diesel refuse trucks and for electric replacements of 15 diesel irrigation engines.
Zero Emission Vehicle (ZEV) Charging Infrastructure
NDEE proposed to utilize 10% of Nebraska’s initial allocation of its VW State Trust funds (approximately $1.2 million) to provide grants or rebates to facilitate the acquisition, installation, operation, and maintenance of electric vehicle charging stations. Several types and locations of charging stations were eligible for funding:
- DC Fast Charging stations along major highway corridors
- Workplace chargers available to employees and the public
- Community charging stations
Charging sites that include a DC Fast Charger are eligible for reimbursement of up to 80% of the cost of equipment, installation, electric service upgrades, and certain other costs. Charging sites with only Level 2 chargers are eligible for reimbursement of up to 50% of the eligible costs.
The Application Period for this funding program closed November 15, 2019. A total of 53 applications were received, with $3.8 million in total funds requested. In view of the strong demand, funding was increased to 15% of Nebraska’s initial allocation, or $1.8 million, using funds available in the Eligible Actions Based on Demand category (see below). The 28 projects selected for funding are expected to result in 35 new electric vehicle charging locations in 18 Nebraska counties.
A list of the electric vehicle charging projects receiving funding through this program is available here: Electric Vehicle Charging Rebate Recipients.
View NDEE’s Funding Request to the VW State Trust for the Electric Vehicle Charging Projects *
Eligible Actions Based on Demand
NDEE initially planned to use 25% of its VW State Trust funds (approximately $3 million) to fund various other eligible mitigation actions authorized by the Trust. In the updated Mitigation Plan this category has been eliminated and its funds reallocated to the School Bus Replacement and Zero Emission Vehicle Charging Infrastructure programs.
Nebraska will implement Trust projects transparently and in a cost-effective manner. Documentation of Trust expenses will be made available to the public in accordance with Nebraska Public Records statutes and Trust requirements. NDEE will account for Trust expenditures, conduct audits as necessary to ensure compliance with applicable requirements, and provide semi-annual reports to the Trustee as required by the State Mitigation Trust agreement. Documents submitted by project applicants in support of funding requests will also be made publicly available, subject to applicable laws governing the publication of confidential business information and personally identifiable information.
The VW Trust website has a page that is specific to Nebraska, which includes funding requests, semi-annual reports, and estimates of Nebraska’s remaining balance. The URL to this page is https://www.vwenvironmentalmitigationtrust.com/state-trust/nebraska *
Questions or comments about NDEE’s Diesel Emission Mitigation Program under the Volkswagen State Trust may be submitted to:
Nebraska Department of Environment and Energy
Energy and Assistance Division, Attn. VW Comments
P.O. Box 98922
Lincoln, NE 68509-8922
* This Page contains links to Non-NDEE websites, these links will open in a New Tab or Window