In September 2017, the Nebraska Department of Environmental Quality (NDEQ) 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, NDEQ subsequently sought public input and has developed an initial 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.
Mitigation Actions Eligible for Funding
NDEQ 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. The table below summarizes the project categories selected for initial funding and the percentage of funds expected to be available in each category. During the course of the Trust, Nebraska will be allowed to evaluate its funding actions and adjust its goals and selection of mitigation actions if needed by providing an updated Mitigation Plan to the Trustee. NDEQ anticipates expending most of the available funds over a 5-year period starting in 2018.
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
1, 6, 7, 8
Eligible Actions Based on Demand
Administrative Costs (maximum 15%)
* Eligible Mitigation Action Number in the VW State Trust Agreement
Transit Bus Alternative Fuel Replacements (10%)
NDEQ will utilize 10% of Nebraska’s VW State Trust funds, or approximately $1.2 million, to replace up to 5 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. Funding is available to replace diesel buses with new buses fueled by compressed natural gas (CNG) or with new electric buses. Replaced buses must be scrapped. NDEQ anticipates awarding $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.
School Bus Diesel and Alternative Fuel Replacements (25%)
NDEQ plans to utilize 25% of Nebraska’s VW State Trust funds, or approximately $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 will be available to replace diesel buses with new buses fueled by diesel, CNG, or propane. Reimbursement percentages will vary depending on whether the recipient is a public or private entity and on the fuel type of the replacement bus. NDEQ anticipates awarding school bus replacement funds in 2 or 3 annual funding cycles beginning in 2018.
The application period for 2018 School Bus Replacements under this program closed August 3, 2018. Forty-two schools applied for rebates, and NDEQ elected to fund all of the rebate projects. A list of the schools that will be receiving school bus replacement rebates can be found here: 2018 School Bus Rebate Recipients.
If your school was selected to receive a rebate, information on carrying out and documenting your project and requesting reimbursement can be found here: 2018 School Bus Rebate Selectee Information.
Matching Funds for Diesel Emission Reduction Act (DERA) Projects
As provided by Eligible Mitigation Action 10 (DERA option), Nebraska plans to use 25% of its VW State Trust allocation, or approximately $3 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 will be 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 funding cycle (ending September 30, 2018), NDEQ is using VW State Trust funds for the replacement of several diesel refuse trucks and for electric replacements of four diesel irrigation engines.
Applications for eligible projects in the 2018 Nebraska Clean Diesel Program will open October 1, 2018.
Zero Emission Vehicle (ZEV) Charging Infrastructure
NDEQ proposes 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. Charging stations available to the public on government-owned or private property will be eligible for reimbursement of 50% of the cost of equipment, installation, and certain other costs. Several types and locations of charging stations may be eligible for funding:
- DC Fast Charging stations along major highway corridors
- Workplace chargers available to employees and the public
- Community charging stations
The charging station funding program is currently in the planning stage, as NDEQ gathers information from electric utilities and other stakeholders. Applications are not being accepted for charging station projects at this time.
Eligible Actions Based on Demand
NDEQ plans to use 25% of its VW State Trust funds (approximately $3 million) to fund various other eligible mitigation actions authorized by the Trust. Projects might include replacement of Class 4 to 8 local freight, delivery, construction, and utility trucks (Actions 1 and 6), replacement of airport ground support equipment with electric equipment (Action 7), and replacement of large forklifts with electric equipment (Action 8). The proportion of funds to be directed to these actions will be determined by the number, type, and cost-effectiveness of projects proposed. If there is insufficient demand for projects of these types, some of these funds may be redirected to one of the previously listed funding categories.
NDEQ is not currently accepting applications for projects in this category. We anticipate that project applications for a first round of funding will be solicited early in 2019.
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. NDEQ 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.
Questions or comments about NDEQ’s Diesel Emission Mitigation Program under the Volkswagen State Trust may be submitted to:
Nebraska Department of Environmental Quality
FSAD Division, Attn. VW Comments
P.O. Box 98922
Lincoln, NE 68509-8922
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